Lung Champions

As part of the WSD 2012 campaign, various people with lung diseases have been recognised as 'Lung Champions' as a result of their personal achievements in sport and activity.

The Lung Champions listed below are from a range of backgrounds, ages and abilities but have all achieved significant success in a sport or activity despite living with a lung disease.

These inspiring individuals demonstrate that with perseverence and determination, it is possible to reach your goals regardless of your physical ability.


Some of today’s best known athlete’s still compete and represent their country despite living with a lung condition. These athletes follow a dedicated training programme and adhere to strict recommendations from their doctors.





Read more about our nominated WSD Lung Champions:

Olaf Tufte has won two gold medals and one silver medal in Olympic rowing competitions so far, and is on target to contend for a fourth medal in London 2012. Olaf is at the top of his sport and he has achieved his goals, despite competing with asthma.

Dmitrijs Jurkevics: Dmitrijs is a Latvian track and field athlete who specialises in middle- distance running. He has had asthma since childhood.

Dr Julie Bradshaw MBE: Julie is an asthmatic and a world-record breaking English Channel and Marathon swimmer.

Esther Overton: 22 year old, Ester Overton, is an Australian Paralympic swimmer who recovered from a collapsed lung to compete in the Beijing Paralympics.

Lisa Bentley: Lisa is an 11-time Ironman Champion and 11-time Ironman 70.3 Champion who also has cystic fibrosis. She is an active fundraiser for CF charities and is a great role model for exercise and lung health.

Jose Juis Gonzalez: Whilst training Jose, a world class runner, experienced a severe episode of exercise-induced asthma, which forced him to abandon training and jeopardised his career as an olympic athlete.  After a year searching for a diagnosis he eventually received a successful treatment and returned to competiton. He describes his feelings of hopelessness and the lack of understanding around asthma.

Euan Copeland: Euan is a very active sportsman taking part in running, football, rugby and cricket despite living with Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia. He recently completed the 'Great South Run' and managed to run 10 miles in 1 hour 37 minutes!

Pernille Genske, Kim Graversen, Kjeld Hansen, Norten Nielsen, Jannik Pedersen, Lene Ring: A group of 6 young adults with moderate partly controlled asthma and occasionally uncontrolled asthma. Together, they successfully completed the New York City (USA) marathon without extra medication.

Dr Robert 'Bob' Kempainen: Dr Kempainen is a competitive long-distance runner from the USA who has completed marathons in record time despite suffering from asthma.

Josh Llewellyn-Jones: Josh has cystic fibrosis (CF) yet still participates in many sports including football, rugby, athletics and long distance running. He has also raised a considerable amount of money for CF by completing various challenges including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Kenya.

Elias Samuel Rios: at 9 years of age, Elias Rios is a World Champion of the martial art, Chaiu-do-kwan (September 2011).

Roland Schoeman: a South African olympic swimmer who has represented his country despite coping with asthma since early childhood.

Kirstie Tancock: Kirstie was born with cystic fibrosis and her lungs became so badly damaged that she needed a double lung transplant. Kirstie goes to the gym several times a week and prides herself on her newfound fitness, despite her transplant being 6 months ago. She is planning to complete a 180 mile bike ride this year to raise funds and awareness for both organ donation and cystic fibrosis.

Alexander Supple: Alex has struggled with his asthma since the age of 2, along with a wide range of food allergies. He is on a severely restricted diet and daily asthma medication to manage his condition. Despite his asthma being exercise exacerbated, he has successfully played rugby in the first team for his local club, Newport (Salop) since he was 6.

Chris Brown-Martin: Chris suffers from alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency but is still a keen kayaker and cyclist, raising lots of money for charity.

Justine Laymond: despite several lung collapses, life-threatening complications and a double-lung transplant Justine has remained positive and acheived numerous sporting goals. Justine has the lung condition LAM yet has participated in the Great South Bupa 10 mile run, the UK transplant games, European Lung and Heart Transplant Games, The World Transplant Games 2011. Justine is a Sports Ambassador for her community.

Robert Ryghseter: Robert is a physically active 70+ year old. He has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but he does not let this stop him enjoying exercise.

Bettina Wallrafen: Bettina suffers from asthma but still keeps active taking part in lots of sport including Nordic Walking, dancing, inline skating, marathon, trampoline, aerobics and gymnastics.

Pat Goodacre: Pat has been a qualified fitness instructor since 1983, running classes for 23 years until she was forced to retire because of COPD. Since then she has been tireless in promoting exercise, working as an EXTEND course director, and running her local leeds-based BLF Active and EXTEND classes.

Maggie Cowman: Maggie played cricket at an international level and had a career in the Police Force. When she was diagnosed with COPD and alpha 1 she was forced to give up her job but not her enthusiasm for sports! Since her double lung transplant in 2010 Maggie has become a keen croquet player, and has used this new sporting passion to raise funds for the hospital that performed her life-giving operation.

Damodar Bhat: For over 30 years Damodar lived an active life in the Indian Army. He was diagnosed with COPD and left the army but continued to teach a wide range of outdoor survival skills to cadets. His passion for mountaineering, legacy in teaching others and determination not to be slowed down by his condition make him a deserving lung champion.

Jean Rommes: Jean suffers from COPD but continues to regularly exercise to keep up her strength and health.

Len Geiger: Len was 35 years old when he was told he had Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Despite this, Len has overcome a series of challenges to succeed in marathon running and mountain biking.

Roger McCubbin: Roger is an active pensioner, visiting his local gym two times a week, despite living with COPD.

TOTAL NUMBER OF TESTS:

67, 262

Add your WSD results here

WSD is an initiative organised by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) in collaboration with the European Lung Foundation (ELF).