EMMA Barnes and Ruth Medcroft, from South Gloucestershire, have special reasons for hoping to return from Malaga, Spain next month with medals.

For sport has given them a new lease of life – quite literally. When they both faced life-changing illnesses, the athletes battled back and are flying out to the World Transplant Games, which start this weekend.

Emma, a former Castle School, Thornbury, student who was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer of the liver when she was 18 and told that she would need a transplant to save her life, is a badminton player.

And Ruth, from Yate, had kidney disease as a child but took up athletics which helped her keep the disease at bay until 2006, having a life-saving operation in 2008.

She continued athletics after her operation and became a world race walking champion at the World Transplant Games in Argentina in 2015 in her age category.

Her trip to Malaga will be to defend her title.

People like Emma, Ruth and those other athletes in the Transplant Games, Paralympic sport and Invictus Games overcome serious adversity to return and prove that nothing is impossible in life.

They have been dubbed ‘super humans’ and rightly so. Their achievements put a few things into perspective and we wish both ladies all the luck in the world in Spain.

Meanwhile, back in Gloucestershire, Forest Green Rovers’ big day arrives on Wednesday when the League Two calendar of fixtures is revealed.

The ‘dream’ of playing in the Football League will then be a reality in black and white as manager Mark Cooper’s men look to step up to the task of facing teams like Swindon Town and Cheltenham Town from August.

It is a big leap and, as we know, their first hurdle is to ensure League Two survival by May next year.

It is bound to be a long, hard but exciting campaign for Forest Green and they need to adjust to the pace and skill of their new league quickly.

For, when they were in the National League, it had been a case in recent years of being a big fish in a medium sized pond where they were battling for a play-off spot and were expected to beat the teams down the wrong end of the ladder.

Now the boot is on the other foot and Forest Green are the tiddlers against the sharks of top sides like relegated League One clubs Port Vale, Chesterfield, Swindon and Coventry City, all desperate to jump straight back into the higher division and who will take no prisoners if Forest Green are off their game.

In this new world, the matches will be tough every week – and will come thick and fast as always. The first victory in the Football League will probably be celebrated as if it was a reprise of the National League play-off final last May.

But a few good results in August and September will certainly set them on their way before the dark, cold days of winter where promotions, survival and relegations are created, creep into play.

Cooper will, no doubt, be hoping that injuries are kept to a minimum during the winter as the club dig in to achieve the next stage of chairman Dale Vince’s big ambition of reaching the Championship. It is pretty exciting, nonetheless.

Rugbywise, there is no doubt that Gloucester’s director of rugby David Humphreys will put a big Irish arm around flanker Ross Moriarty to help him get over the bitter disappointment of the past fortnight.

The Welsh cap was about to achieve the pinnacle of any player’s career, a British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand and a chance to play the mighty All Blacks on their own patch.

Moriarty started the opening match of the Lions tour, a unconvincing 13-7 win over a team of amateurs called the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians.

But, after that game and throughout the opening fortnight of the tour, he suffered back spasms and, last weekend, came the decision to send him back to Kingsholm.

It is a horrible for a young man who could have been what the Lions call ‘a bolter’ – a player who jumps from good to world class during a tour – but these are the fortunes of the sport.

It is a blow for Moriarty, who will surely re-set his sights on touring South Africa with the Lions in four years time, but, as Emma and Ruth have shown, sport has a curious way of producing positives from negatives.