Facilities near completion as Gib targets sporting future
The Minister for Sports, Steven Linares, made the official presentation of the Gibraltar Target Shooting Association’s new premises yesterday, setting his sights firmly on a future towards aimed at sports tourism.
“This is the legacy we have been talking about,” he said, as he officially presented the facilities at North Mole.
The state-of-the-art installations are now near completion, with shooters already making use of the facilities during the past two weeks as they prepare for this summer’s Island Games.
This was one of the three main sites Mr Linares was to present officially to the media as he continued with the site tours of sporting facilities which are due to be used at this summer’s Gibraltar 2019 Island Games.
The sites are also part of the proposals tabled for the bid for the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games.
Mr Linares said each site will play an integral part in the Gibraltar Government’s push towards creating the foundation blocks towards a sports tourism industry.
The 36-lane target shooting range, with an open air, 50m, 20-lane top sat across three floors at the top of new complex inside the industrial park located at North Mole. The new complex would itself house storage units and car parking facilities adding a new commercial area to North Mole.
The new target shooting range has 10m, 25m and 50 m ranges and is a far cry from the original premises that the association had held prior to the construction of this new facilities.
It also has a large club/social area, new electronic equipment, armoury and buffer walls which ensured security for both shooters and the public.
Mr Linares highlighted how he hoped that the new facilities would provide a foundation block from which the GTSA could develop its own strategy to attract competitors and users to the Rock in the future.
“I won’t be pushing them, I will be pressuring them,” Mr Linares said as he explained how he expected to see the facilities used in the future as part of the overall strategy the government had embarked on towards sports tourism.
Dismissing some of the criticisms and concerns which had been expressed in recent months over the completion of the facilities, Mr Linares portrayed a positive and confident mood as he highlighted that the facilities which were being constructed were not just for the Island Games.
“These will all be for the future,” he said, as he indicated that the electronic equipment which had been installed had previously not been available and should meet the association’s needs for the next few years.
The tour also saw the media visiting the Clay Target Shooting facility, a unique vantage point at Europa Advanced Road which probably provided one of the most spectacular views of all the sites with a view of the Strait of Gibraltar and Mediterranean.
What once used to be an open platform with a portacabin for cover had been transformed into a two floor platform providing shooters with state of the art facilities and their own club house directly underneath.
“It’s all cosmetic now, by next week this will all be far different. The crane will be gone, the area will be cleared and they will be able to start using the facilities,” explained Mr Linares, as he showed the media around the newly constructed facilities.
A steep slope next to the main steps leading down to the main platform still required a mechanical chair and barriers to be installed.
This the first clear improvement to the site which now made it inclusive with persons on wheelchairs now able to access the facilities.
A large social/club house area provides the association with added facilities from which to develop both their social and competition activities.
“Now they can spend time even in bad weather at their facilities and make use of the breaks in the weather,” added Mr Linares, as he highlighted how the new facilities provided far greater scope for the sport to develop in more than just the practical sporting sense.
Shooters received a welcome boost as contractors revealed that by next Thursday they expect the facilities to be ready for use.
Similarly a final stop at Kings Bastion Leisure centre, the home of Ten-Pin Bowling highlighted the progress which was now being seen across all sports facilities.
Kings Bastion Ten-Pin Bowling facilities had received more than just a “refurbishment” as it was explained.
Second-hand equipment which had originally been installed had now been replaced with new electronic equipment.
This brought the facilities in line with international tournament standards. The facilities, which are also widely used by the public on a day-to-day basis had also seen an upgrade of its air conditioning facilities with a commercial air-conditioning system installed replacing the smaller air conditioners which had originally been installed when first build.
Similarly the maintenance work which had been carried out also allowed for a leak of the ice rink to be repaired securing the ceiling of the facilities.
“There shouldn’t be an ice rink on a top floor as we all know but we have had a chance to now repair a leak and make it safe,” commented Mr Linares.
The tour came as Gibraltar nears its deadline for the Island Games. With the turf at Europa Point Sports Complex now in place, the athletics track at Lathbury Barracks Sports Complex already near completion and the new swimming pool also nearing completion concerns over whether the facilities would be ready on time where being cautiously dispelled.
With just 16 days before the Island Games opening ceremony things were coming together at a steady pace with expectations that all the facilities required “would be ready” within the coming week.
Whilst the focus had been placed on completing facilities far enough for use during the games Mr Linares highlighted the importance of the facilities towards the future of sport.
“We are looking at the new season not just the Island Games. We are looking towards September, but if there is an overspill and we go into October or even November I don’t mind, this is about the future and the legacy for the future.”
Government officials highlighted the importance they were placing on looking towards building and supporting the facilities, strategies and policies toward the development of a sports tourism industry which did not yet exist on the Rock.
Pic by Johnny Bugeja