Gibraltar all set for 2017 NatWest Island Games
More than 130 Gibraltarian athletes flew from the Rock yesterday to take part in the 17th NatWest Island Games on the Swedish island of Gotland.
Athletes will be looking to shoot, swim and run their way to medals and podium positions as they put months of hard work and excruciating training to the test.
23 Islands with 3000 athletes will be taking part in 14 different sports during the weeklong event.
Gibraltar is competing in eleven sports including three shooting disciplines- rifle, pistol and clay - as well as tennis, badminton, volleyball, athletics, triathlon, cycling, table tennis and women’s football.
According to Jörgen Pettersson, Chairperson of the International Island Games Association, the quality of the competitors is probably stronger than ever and winning a medal will be even harder.
In a message to athletes Mr Pettersson said: “But we all have to remember that by just being in Gotland you are a winner.”
“You have trained hard enough to represent your island in this unique international competition and because of your effort you have also inspired others to try harder and become better.”
“That is the true beauty of friendship.”
These are the final games before Gibraltar once again hosts the international competition in 2019.
Organisers and team managers will therefore be looking to get as much information from their counterparts in Gotland regarding their experiences and challenges in order to have the best possible Games in Gibraltar in 2019.
Gibraltar will also take on a more prominent role in the closing ceremony to be held on Friday June 30, as a representative of the Gibraltar Island Games Association will be handed the Island Games flag.
The Minister for Sport, Steven Linares yesterday wished all the athletes, coaches and volunteers all the best for their participation in the 17th Island Games.
Mr Linares will accompany the local delegation and will be present at the opening ceremony on Saturday.
The Opposition Spokesman for Sports, Edwin Reyes, has also sent a message to Gibraltar’s Island Games participants who are flying out to Gotland as proud representatives of the sporting community.
Mr Reyes added: “I take this opportunity to wish each and every athlete the best of luck and hope you both enjoy and benefit from this international experience at which you shall be competing as worthy representatives of our small nation.”