A MAGNIFICENT bronze medal for members of the Falkland Archery Team, Louise Clarke and Bill Chater, capped off what has been, so far, a week of personal and team excellence in Gotland.
Personal Bests have fallen in the pool, impressive results have been achieved in the badminton hall and a number of new events have been undertaken in this the 17th Island Games.
The Badminton team, which was part of the first Island Games attended by the Falklands in 1993, began with matches against Isle of Man, Greenland and Isle of Wight in the Team Competition. The team were only too aware of the strength of the Isle of Man and Greenland squads and the two games against them ended in 5-0 defeats. There was more expectation regarding the match up with Isle of Wight, having run them close in a 3-2 defeat in 2015, but even though the 5-0 loss was not what the team had hoped for, the biggest disappointment was probably the competition-ending injury to captain, Doug Clark, when playing so well in his singles match.
The team recovered from that setback on the following day however and whitewashed Yns Mon by a 5-0 scoreline in the playoff for 13th and 14th position, with Guernsey winning team gold. Success continued in the individual events when Ross Stewart set the ball rolling with a hard fought victory in his opening singles match against a Gibraltan player, coming from behind to win in three games. Ross was to go on to lose out to the 4th seed from the Faroes, while Louise Williams also showed her ability on the singles court with a good straight games win over a Bermudan, before eventually being knocked out by the 6th seed, also from the Faroes.
Ross and Louise would meet more Faroese opposition in the mixed doubles when after a fantastic display of control and no little skill they won the first end 25-23. The opponents who will have much more experience of playing tournament level at this level and higher were rattled, however used their nous to claim the second game and also edge a tight 3rd. As well as Ross and Louise, Dominic Jaffray and Cheryl March enjoyed victories in the win over Yns Mon and in the individual competition had good matches against tough opposition. Duane who deputised for Doug in the Men’s doubles, plus Allan Steen and debutants Vicky Chater and Zoe Morris also performed well in their matches.
Matt Aston who was taking on the not insignificant challenge of a Triathlon, Cycling Time Trial and a Half Marathon in a week, began with what was probably the challenge he was looking forward to the least. The wind provided the elements for a tough swim leg of the Triathlon, though Matt surfaced in good position and proceeded to have a strong cycle and swim to complete the event in 50th place.
Returning to compete in the Cycling Time Trial the very next day was always going to be a tough ask, however Matt battled through to a time of 1:04:03.59. David Fyfe, cycling at the Island games for the first time, recorded a time of 1:00:15.89 in the same event for 52nd. David competed in the Road Race on Wednesday although he couldn’t finish due to official time constraints on the course and with 2 days left of competition Matt and David still have one event left each, namely the Half Marathon and Cycling’s Town Centre Criterium, which will both be held on Friday.
Pistol shooting is the only firearms event at this competition that the Falklands are involved in with shooting over 10, 25 and 50m for both Men and Women using both air pistols and .22 pistols. The air pistols were late arriving due to customs clearance in Stockholm, so no practice was possible with their own weapons, however despite this the scores have been excellent.
Nevin managed a personal best on day one and Charlotte and Sarah scored extremely well in the 25m sports pistol category, which is a format that they have not competed in before or been able to practise in the Islands.
The football team knew they had a tough draw before they arrived and to get anything out of the first two games against Yns Mon and Isle of Man was always going to be difficult. And so it proved, especially as the team didn’t make things easy for themselves by starting slowly and giving away early goals in both games. Despite the poor starts, the Falkland team grew in to both matches and stuck to their task well, firstly holding a team with major attacking threats in wide positions in Yns Mon to a 3-0 defeat. Isle of Man had quite quickly built a 4-0 lead in their game, however some good quick breaks and composed finishing by young Sam Toolan gave the fans plenty to cheer about despite a final score of 5-2.
Although plenty of energy and concentration was spent on preparing the team and picking particular sides against the first two opponents, the main focus to accumulate some points in the group would always be against Hitra, having gained victory over them in 2015. The Falklands started on the front foot and went ahead through persistence from Rafa.