Gibraltar 2019: Island Games get underway

YMIGA

The 2019 Natwest International Island Games are underway in Gibraltar.

Around hundred athletes from Team Ynys Môn are taking part in the bi-annual tournament – the 18th Games to be held since the inaugural event in the Isle of Man in 1985.

Six days of competition kicked off on Sunday morning with the men’s and women’s triathlons.

The opening day’s action also takes in most of the fourteen sports on show – including badminton, beach volleyball, cycling, shooting and tennis.

More than 1600 competitors from 22 islands around the world were officially welcomed to Gibraltar during Saturday night’s opening ceremony at the Europa Point stadium – one of two new venues built for the event.

Anglesey is fielding a 20-strong athletics squad with competitions throughout the whole week at the new Lathbury Sports Complex.

The first track and field medals will be decided on Sunday with the finals of the men’s high jump, the women’s long jump and the men’s 10,000 metres.

As part of the ceremony, a sample of water from Ffynnon Seiriol in Penmon was poured into a fountain along with local water from each of the participating islands.

This is the second time Gibraltar has played host to the Games, having first staged the event in 1995.

In all, there are sixteen venues – but a lack of facilities has ruled out the likes of archery, indoor volleyball and football. Instead, ten-pin bowling, judo and squash will take their place.

One of Gibraltar’s main sporting venues, the Victoria Stadium, is out for bounds for the tournament. Instead, it’s being reserved for a Europa League qualifier between Rangers and local club St Joseph’s on Tuesday.

The absence of football led to Ynys Môn hosting the highly successful Inter-Island Games last month – an unofficial championship which attracted 14,000 people to thirty matches across the island.

It also yielded success for the hosts – as the men clinched gold for the first time in twenty years, while the women’s squad won silver in their best performance to date at a major international tournament.

While football will return to the Games proper in Guernsey in 2021, Môn will be aiming to build on the feel good factor back home and improve on their last medal tally two years ago.

In Gotland, Amelia-Jayne Jennings-McLaughlin won Anglesey’s only gold in the women’s high jump. The athletics squad also took two silver medals and three bronze.

Eve Goddard-Smith was a double winner in the swimming pool, picking up a silver and bronze in the women’s butterfly events – while gymnast Daniel Chadwick Jones took silver in the men’s individual floor competition.

On top of the medal chase in the coming week, Ynys Môn are also continuing to build up their bid to host the 2025 Games.

No sooner than the Inter-Island Games had finished, the bid’s organisers resumed their work ahead of an inspection by the International Island Games Association in October. The final decision will be known next July when the IIGA meets in Guernsey.

David Tommis, chairman of the Ynys Môn Island Games Association, said: ”This is a very exciting time for sport on Ynys Mon already, and to have our best and brightest athletes heading out to compete in a wide range of sports representing our island on the international stage, over the next week or so, only adds to that.”

”This is going to be a hugely beneficial week for everyone involved in the 2019 Games and we look forward to our athletes fully taking advantage of the experience and creating memories and friendships that will last long after this summer’s Games conclude.”

We’ll bring you the latest on Team Ynys Môn’s fortunes throughout the week – with on-air updates from MônFM’s Steve Evans in Gibraltar and in our MonFM Update news bulletins, as well as on Facebook, Twitter (@MonFMRadio) and on our website.

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