Western Isles athletes break record for medals in Sweden
WESTERN Isles athletes have flown back home with an impressive haul of medals from the Island Games in Sweden.
The 2017 WIIGA (Western Isles Island Games Association) squad returned to Stornoway following a successful and thoroughly enjoyable week of international competition at the NatWest Island Games XVII Gotland 2017.
They returned with a record haul of 10 gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze, as well as an abundance of happy memories both of competition and the beautiful island of Gotland.
And all of the medals were won by women.
The squad also achieved its highest finish in the final medals table – seventh – ahead of the two other Scottish islands teams for the second games running.
A total squad of 88, including coaches, management and physios, represented the Western Isles at the biennial event, with 73 participants competing in eight different sports – athletics, badminton, cycling, golf, football (men’s and women’s), shooting, swimming and triathlon. And 35 of the participants were under 20 years old.
The medallists were: Swimming: Kara Hanlon, 50m breaststroke, gold; 200m breaststroke, gold; 200m individual medley, gold; Kathryn Offer, 100m backstroke, bronze; 50m freestyle, gold; 50m backstroke, gold.
Mountain biking: Kerry Macphee, MTB XCountry, gold; MTB Criterium, gold; Kirsty Macphee, MTB XCountry, silver; MTB Criterium, silver; Kerry and Kirsty Macphee, team MTB XCountry, gold; team MTB Criterium, gold.
Athletics: Eve Carrington, shot putt, silver; Heather Mackinnon, triple jump, gold.
There were so many highlights through the week, but one that definitely stands out is the gold medal won by young Eriskay triple jumper, Heather Mackinnon. In a field that included a former Olympian, she produced the jump her life in the first round to set a target of 11.06m for the rest to aim at – with five jumps to go.
Heather twice beat her previous personal best in a terrific series of jumps and still held the lead when the second last competitor produced a big jump. The large crowd of Western Isles supporters feared the worst as 11m went up on the scoreboard, but when that was followed by .02, emotions were let go and the gold was confirmed.
What made this medal special was that she was able to share the win with her father, mother, brother and sister who had made the trip out to Gotland.
There were many successes beyond the medals, with new talent emerging, personal bests achieved, athletes just missing out on medals and personal challenges overcome.
Prior to leaving for Gotland WIIGA’s main sponsor, The Scottish Salmon Company, presented the WIIGA squad with their official kit. With costs approaching £170,000, the support of a main sponsor is invaluable and contributes towards WIIGA’s efforts to make attending the games as affordable as possible to our talented island athletes.
Team manager Iain GG Campbell, said: ‘Our partnership with The Scottish Salmon Company has certainly benefited WIIGA over the past two games. Friendships have been formed and we have shared many positive images of our competitors, showing what a successful community partnership can provide.
‘ We understand the need for businesses to continuously review their priorities but I look forward to meeting with Craig Anderson’s team to thank them for their support and provide feedback on the Gotland Games.’
Craig Anderson, chief executive of The Scottish Salmon Company, said: ‘A huge congratulations to the Western Isles team on their fantastic achievement at the recent Games in Gotland.
‘ We are very proud to support this year’s record-breaking team and hope the athletes go from strength to strength at the next island gathering in Gibraltar 2019.’
Many of the WIIGA sports teams received financial support from local businesses, organisations and individuals. To date the following have given support: Charles Macleod (Butcher), Harris Tweed Hebrides, Engebret Ltd, Ishga, Point and Sandwick Trust, MG ALBA, Lewis Builders, Baltic Book Shop, Uig Lodge, Big Husky Lodge, Maciver Consultancy Services Ltd, John Roe, ACES (Electrical), Yesss Electrical, Schneider Electric, Obh! Obh!, Horshader Community Development, Duncan Mackay and Sons Ltd and Galson Motors.
The Western Isles team returned with a record medals haul.