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Friday, 11 November 2011

Blog becomes a book!

I didn't expect to be adding anything further to the blog after August, but after several requests we have decided to convert the blog into a book! It is along the same lines as the Aland Adventure one published after the 2009 Games.

All profits from sales will go towards the Isle of Man AA's Bermuda 2013 fund. Orders are being taken up to Monday 21 November - information about the book and details of how to order are at http://www.iomaa.info/. The book will provide a permanent memento of a very enjoyable and successful week in the history of Isle of Man athletics. Please consider ordering a copy and supporting the Isle of Man athletes at the same time - thanks!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Memories in photos - Part 3

This is the third and final part of the slightly offbeat photographic feature looking back at a memorable week on the Isle of Wight for the Isle of Man athletics team. This one focusses largely on the team's accommodation at the Fort Holiday Park in Sandown.

The final photograph relates to the two DVDs I am in the process of putting together from my many hours of video footage of the week's athletics action. I completed the first one yesterday and hope to get the second one done by next weekend. In total there will be about four and a quarter hours of footage featuring every event (including heats) involving Isle of Man athletes. Every medal ceremony involving the Isle of Man is included too, along with several interviews and lots more.

I am taking orders for these now, so if you would like the 2-DVD set (filmed, produced and edited by Meerkat Productions!!) please get in touch - email griffmuss@manx.net. Just as for the Aland ones two years ago I do not want any personal payment for these, but I would like to suggest that for each order a minimum donation of £15 is made to the Isle of Man Athletics Association (cheques payable to IOMAA). All the money taken will go into the "Bermuda 2013 fund", which needs every penny it can get to try and keep costs down!!  


In 2005, the team stayed on a cruise ship, in 2007 in a 4-star hotel, and in 2009 in a school. In the Isle of Wight in 2011 they stayed on a caravan park, generally with six sharing a caravan. The living rooms were quite spacious...

... and the kitchens reasonably well equipped...

...whilst the sleeping quarters could best be described as very cosy!

There was plenty of room for Kevin Loundes to stretch his legs the evening before the Half Marathon...

... and plenty of scope for the team to mingle outside...

...while Ciara and Rachael find a novel form of transport!

You discover all sorts of things about people during Island Games week. I never really had Ben Brand down as an animal lover!

I'm not sure whether Mikey Haslett is having a shot at goal or honing his hurdling technique here!

There were a few clowns around the place too!

The team were fed in the on-site pub, which was closed to the public for food during the week. The portions on the first evening were not exactly over-generous, but improved a lot during the week...

...although perhaps not quite to the quality to be found at the Boat House near Ryde!! 

I have now competed the first of two DVDs, which in total capture four and a quarter hours of action from the athletics competition. Hopefully the second DVD will be finished this week. Every event involving an Isle of Man athlete is featured, including heats. Every medal ceremony with Manx interest is included, along with several of the interviews given to Manx Radio and plenty more.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Memories in photos - Part 2

The second of three photographic features consists of a fairly random collection of moments from the week in the Isle of Wight. The third and final one will follow in the next day or two.

The team's drive down to the Isle of Wight was memorable for the driver getting lost and finding himself in the centre of Birmingham. They would surely have done much better with Tom Riley driving (complete with apple in mouth) and Mikey Haslett navigating!!

The track at Sandown may have lacked the character of the stadium in Mariehamn two years ago, but there was still a good atmosphere with big crowds in attendance throughout the week. But thank goodness it wasn't a wet week! (photo by Brands)

The official mascot for the 2011 Games was the red squirrel. However, the unofficial mascot for the IOM athletics team was the meerkat! (photo by Brands)

Our good friend Victor Truyol Alles was the manager of the Minorcan athletics team this year, and also found time to compete in the 400 metres hurdles event. He had a bit of a rocky landing from the final hurdle though! (photo by Brands)

Could this be the first taste of the dress code that will be required for spectators in Bermuda in 2013? The Cayman athlete seems to approve at least!

A peek into the 'inner sanctum'  of the call room tent before the women's 10,000 metres race. Gail Griffiths and Hannah Howard are on the left, while on the right are gold medal winner Louise Perrio (Guernsey) and behind her Michelle Sandison (Shetland)

This is part of the very narrow back section of the Half Marathon course, which was closed to traffic during the race. This stretch is sharply uphill...

...and at the top of the hill is a property with a strangely familiar name!

There were some breaks from blogging and filming during the week! This is part of the rapidly eroding coastline towards the South-Western end of the island

These are the famous 'Needles' at the South-Western tip of the island, an extremely popular tourist resort

There are many thatched roofs to be seen on the Isle of Wight, none more attractive than in this beautiful part of Old Shanklin

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Memories in photos - Part 1

The 2011 Island Games blog is nearing its end, but over the next few days I will be bringing back to life some memories of several different aspects of this year's Games. I also hope to find the time to get all my video footage edited shortly, which will be put onto two DVDs and made available to anyone who wants a copy. There will be well over four hours of footage, and every event involving Isle of Man athletes (including heats) and all the medal ceremonies will be included.

The first set of photos feature several of the Isle of Man team and supporters captured at various moments during the week.


Team manager Anthony Brand and thrower Richard Bell pictured enjoying the spectacular Opening Ceremony on the streets of Ryde (photo Caroline Brand)

Di Shimell (left) is standing down from the athletics management team after many years of service. Former GB international athlete Danaa Callow (right) was part of the management team for the first time in the Isle of Wight (photo by Brands)

Discus thrower Andrea de Bruin enjoyed every minute of her Island Games debut, and now has the Commonwealth Youth Games to look forward to in September (photo by Brands)

I'm really not altogether sure why Ciara McDonnell needed an ice pack for her face here, but she looks like she is plotting revenge!! (photo by Brands)

Bethan Pilley made an excellent Island Games debut, finishing fifth in the Long Jump. Here she ponders her approach for her next jump

It was very warm all week, and Daniel Stewart-Clague takes refuge under a brolly during the Triple Jump competition

Although he didn't win a medal in this race, Ryan Fairclough's performance in the 800 metres final was one of the best of the week from the Isle of Man team. He gets a well deserved pat on the back after the race

There was lots of support for the Isle of Man team all through the week. Bernie Shimell licks his lips at the prospect of a week with no timekeeping duties and plenty of cycling! (photo by Brands)

The Island Games always provides a great platform for making and maintaining friendships with athletes from the other islands.  Gail Griffiths enjoys meeting up with Claire Wilson of Jersey (formerly Shetland) for the first time since 2007...

...and getting to know Half Marathon rival Deon Breary of Bermuda at the track during the week

Martin Malone swaps shirts with Minorca's Half Marathon competitor Juanjo Cerro after the 10,000 metres race on the final day

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Moment of the Games

After the Isle of Man athletics team's most successful Island Games for years, how do you possibly choose one moment as the most memorable of the Games? It's not an easy task and I don't really know why I've taken it on myself to do it!

There were so many to choose from. Nobody will ever forget Keith Gerrard's two magnificent performances - one a solo demonstration, the other a great race against a quality athlete who Keith just ran into the ground. 2011 was the year that Harriet Pryke fulfilled all the promise she has shown in recent years with two high-class victories in the 200 metres and 400 metres, stamping huge authority on both and not giving her rivals a glimmer of a chance in either. It was also the year that Reagan Dee made her Island Games debut and won a gold medal at the first attempt in the high jump. This is an event she looks set to dominate for years to come.

From a personal point of view, it was tremendously rewarding to see Gail running better than ever in both her races, and winning a thoroughly well-earned gold medal in the Half Marathon team event along with Hannah Howard. Her dedication to her running is incredible and she is an inspiration to many athletes both on and off the island. One of the Western Islands Half Marathon runners came up to her after the 10,000 metres race and told her exactly that, which was a lovely touch.

There were also some highly promising performances from some of the young Island Games debutants this year, who will surely go on to success in the future.

But one moment stands out for me as the most memorable of the Games, and that was Hannah Riley's magnificent performance in the women's 100 metres hurdles final. Unlike events such as the Half Marathon and 10,000 metres where there are many twists and turns over a long period of time as the race unfolds, the short hurdles races are all about instant drama and excitement  And never more so than on the Tuesday night of Island Games week on the Isle of Wight! 

Hannah won a gold medal in the 400 metres hurdles on her Games debut back in 1999 and had a glittering Games career up to 2005, but she then suffered a serious knee injury that took years to fully recover from. She missed the next two Island Games, and then just as she was about to launch her 2011 season she was knocked off her motorbike in March, breaking a wrist and some ribs and generally being a bit knocked about. She recovered remarkably quickly from this, helped by several sessions in the Hyperbaric Chamber, but the missed training meant she was not fully prepared for her favourite 400 metres hurdles event and decided to concentrate mainly on the sprint hurdles event this year.

I thought Hannah may have a chance of getting into the medals if things went really well, but surely nobody seriously expected the medal to be gold! The red-hot favourite for the race was Guernsey's Kylie Robilliard, who is a Commonwealth Games hurdler, and the previous night she had smashed Kelly Sotherton's 14-year-old Island Games record in the 100 metres final. Hannah was totally focussed on her own race though, and by the fourth hurdle she was in second place but not too far behind the Guernsey athlete. Whether Robilliard was affected by the pressure of being seriously challenged I don't know, but suddenly she got it all wrong and smashed into a barrier with a real thud. This completely unbalanced her and after struggling over the next couple of hurdles she had to admit defeat and pull out. Hannah was now metres clear of the rest of the field, and her hurdling technique over all ten barriers was absolutely superb.

When Hannah crossed the line way out in front in a new Isle of Man record time, it took me a second or two to take in that she had actually won the race (it's difficult to film and properly watch the race at the same time!) Pandemonium then broke out as Hannah raced over to the Manx support at the end of the track, and spent the next minute or so struggling to take in what she had just achieved as the emotion of the moment took over. It was a wonderful performance by a quality athlete. It is often said that at the top level of sport the really great performers are the ones who can not only win, but suffer adversity and come back and win again. If that applies at Island Games level, then Hannah's performance must be one of the best by an Isle of Man athlete in Games history. Her first Island Games race since 2005 (there were no heats, it was a straight final) and a gold medal - incredible!

Of course it then got even better a few minutes later as Hannah's brother Tom won the silver medal in the men's 110 metres hurdles race, which followed on directly after Hannah's event. This was every bit as exciting, as it took several minutes for the result to be confirmed. It was a really great night for the Riley family who have put so much into athletics for many years, but remarkably this was the first time that Hannah and Tom have both competed in the same Island Games. Sadly their grandfather passed away suddenly at the end of Island Games week, but not before he had taken great pleasure and pride in hearing of his grandchildren's successes in the Isle of Wight.

Hannah's victory in the 100 metres hurdles race gets my vote as the 2011 'Moment of the Games'. 


Hannah (lane two, second from right) gets a cracking start, but is a stride behind Guernsey's Kylie Robilliard (lane eight, extreme left) at this stage
It was at around this point in the race that Robilliard (now out of shot) clattered a hurdle really hard which threw her totally out of her stride. She did not complete the race. Hannah is now a clear leader ahead of Bermuda's Shianne Smith (extreme left) who took the silver
Hannah's lead then grew with every stride, and with three hurdles left to jump the opposition are trailing in her wake
Hannah's hurdling was faultless. She was smooth and extremely fast over every barrier, looking by far the best technician in the race
It was a magnificent night for the Riley family, as just minutes after Hannah's gold medal her brother Tom took the silver medal in the men's 110 metres hurdles final! (all the above photos by the Brands)

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Island Games records - updated

The latest statistical feature on the blog to follow the recent Games on the Isle of Wight is an updated list of Island Games athletics records. I should add that these are my own totally unofficial lists having updated the official records from 2009, but I am pretty confident they are correct.

I was really irritated during the week on the Isle of Wight to keep being told – both over the PA system at the track and in the IOW press – that the Isle of Wight’s Amy Church had broken the Island Games record several times during the women’s hammer competition. Her best throw of 48.55 metres was certainly very impressive, but it was not a Games record. That was set by the Isle of Man’s Marit Zahkna in 2009 with a throw of 48.81 metres. I don’t know which list the officials and media were getting their information from, but it certainly wasn’t the correct one!

No fewer than twelve new Games records were set during the week, several of them by huge margins, which confirms that standards in the Island Games are getting higher all the time across the majority of disciplines. There were a handful of fairly weak events this year, but not many. With Keith Gerrard’s new 1500 metres record now in the list, Isle of Man athletes currently hold records in six events that are presently contested at the Games.

The full list is as follows:

MEN
Event
Record
Holder
Island
Year
100m
10.60
Gordon Crowe
Isle of Man
1989
200m
21.31
Mattias Sunneborn
Gotland
1999
400m
46.70
Dale Garland
Guernsey
2007
800m
1.50.37
Michael Guegan
Jersey
1993
1500m
3.48.45
Keith Gerrard
Isle of Man
2011
5000m
14.21.35
Lee Merrien
Guernsey
2009
10000m
30.03.64
Janne Holmen
Åland
2009
Half Marathon
66.34
Janne Holmen
Åland
2009
110m Hurdles
14.65
Dale Garland
Guernsey
2005
400m Hurdles
50.41
James Forman
Isle of Wight
2011
3000m S/Chase
8.57.46
Mikael Nordblom
Åland
1991
4x100m Relay
41.46
Cayman Islands
Cayman Islands
2011
4x400m Relay
3.12.38
Guernsey
Guernsey
2009
High Jump
2.13
Martin Aram
Isle of Man
2003
Long Jump
7.73
Mattias Sunneborn
Gotland
1993
Triple Jump
15.68
Carl Morgan
Cayman Islands
2011
Pole Vault
4.62
Bo Jacobsson
Gotland
1999
Shot Putt
17.15
Zane Duquemin
Jersey
2011
Discus
56.43
Zane Duquemin
Jersey
2011
Hammer
70.61
Andy Frost
Isle of Wight
2011
Javelin
68.80
Sander Suurhans
Saaremaa
2011

WOMEN
Event
Record
Holder
Island
Year
100m
11.94
Kylie Robilliard
Guernsey
2011
200m
23.27
Cydonie Mothersill
Cayman Islands
2007
400m
55.10
Julie Moore
Isle of Man
1995
800m
2.11.72
Emma Leask
Shetland
2011
1500m
4.28.17
Ann-Catrin Nordman
Åland
1991
5000m
17.01.0
Maria Pardalou
Rhodes
2007
10000m
36.11.68
Ann-Catrin Nordman
Åland
1997
Half Marathon
73.35
Brenda Walker
Isle of Man
1991
100m Hurdles
14.39
Kelly Sotherton
Isle of Wight
1997
400m Hurdles
60.72
Diana Lindqvist
Åland
1991
3000m S/Chase
n/a
4x100m Relay
47.60
Cayman Islands
Cayman Islands
1999
4x400m Relay
3.53.79
Jersey
Jersey
2011
High Jump
1.75
Diana Lindqvist
Åland
2003
Long Jump
5.95
Kim Murray
Isle of Wight
2007
Triple Jump
12.11
Kalliopi Neski
Rhodes
1999
Pole Vault
n/a
Shot Putt
12.86
Virge Treiel
Saaremaa
1997
Discus
45.39
Shadine Duquemin
Jersey
2011
Hammer
48.89
Marit Zahkna
Isle of Man
2009
Javelin
50.84
Linda Lindqvist
Åland
1997
Note 1: Entries shaded in yellow are IOM competitors
Note 2: List only shows events currently contested