Chris Walker explains why Gibraltar needs more “professional coaching” across sports
Team Gibraltar returned from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on Tuesday morning after participating in the closing ceremony on the Monday evening after ten long days of sports.
With Gibraltar returning without any medals but with numerous national records broken we had a chance to get some views from Chris Walker, Team Gibraltar’s Chef de Mission and a former Commonwealth Games athlete himself in the past.
We asked Mr Walker what he thought.
Although Gibraltar went to the 2022 Games with what was a relatively small team, the athletes return with some comparably respectable results, amongst which are numerous Gibraltar National records. From what you have observed these past days and from the results obtained how did you view Gibraltar’s overall performance?
The overall performance surpassed those of previous games as expected although as standards have improved across the board our finishing positions ended up being similar to previous games.
How do you view Gibraltar’s development in sports?
In most sports we are failing to close the gap on other smaller nations and one of the main differences is the lack of paid professional coaching in Gibraltar. The financial support provided by GSLA is spread too evenly across all GSLA recognised associations instead of being focused on Commonwealth and Island Games sports.
Realistically what aspirations can Gibraltar have towards the future considering the competition it faces in such games?
Should funding become available for access to professional coaching and competitive events away from Gibraltar then there is no reason why Gibraltar can start achieving the same type of results as other smaller nations and achieve finishes in the top 10 and possible podiums.
For some sports, and with Gibraltar unable to compete in events such as the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games becomes the biggest event some athletes can participate in. How important is it to maintain Gibraltar’s presence and try and extend its presence further if allowed?
This is absolutely crucial if we are going to continue to improve our overall performances. Birmingham has proved that the Commonwealth Games is still a major multi-sport event that is watched by millions of people all around the world.
Logistically even a small team such as that taken by Gibraltar involves bigger numbers than those actually participating due to the need for coaches and other essential personnel being present. Can Gibraltar aspire to have bigger teams in the future if allowed to increase its numbers?
It is very unlikely the Gibraltar will be able to secure additional slots for the 2026 Commonwealth Games and beyond due to the restrictions that have been put in place by the Commonwealth Games Federation for all countries.
We have seen records broken in this games by athletes from relatively small states. Should Gibraltar sports be trying to attain even higher standards than it is presently trying to achieve?
Yes , 100% and in all sports