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Island Games, one year on

The first day of competitions during last summers Island Games in Gibraltar might have started on a glorious Sunday morning as the sun rose across the horizon infront of our main beaches, but it was on Monday July 8 when our readers were greeted with what was a stunning images of the modern sunshine games. The image by our photographer Johnny Bugeja captured that moment when Chris Walker and Andrew Gordon stepped out of the water during the Triathlon, the opening event of what was to be a very successful Island Games. Pic by Johnny Bugeja

This week marks a year since the hosting of the XVIII Natwest International Island Games 2019 in Gibraltar.

For local organisers, a reminder of last year's events came last weekend when the Gibraltar Island Games Association, along with local sports officials, met with the other 23 IIGA Member Islands in a virtual meeting with next year's organisers, Guernsey.

The virtual encounter replaced the traditional trip by representatives to each Island to the host country to see at first hand the venues and works being done in preparation for the next games.

The Annual General Meeting, which was due to be held in July a year on from the last games, has been postponed until September.

The virtual meeting was to highlight the contrasting times sports have lived through since last summer and the emergence of a global pandemic which has brought sport to a stop at a global level.

Although Guernsey is among one of the territories which has seen competitive sports returning, the meeting concluded with Julia Bowditch, the Guernsey 2021 Games Director, highlighting how a final decision on next year’s games will not be known until September.

"Member Islands are due to convene again for the IIGA AGM at the end of September where, based on guidelines from the States of Guernsey and Health and Social Care, a decision will be made as to whether we are able to host the Games on their scheduled date," she told the Guernsey 2020 official website on Monday.

Gibraltar, however, this week can look back at how a year ago it celebrated its Opening Ceremony on the 6th July, which marked the start of what was to become one of the most memorable weeks in Gibraltar’s sporting history, the Island Games also having coincided with European club football competitions which saw both Rangers and Leiga Warsaw play in Gibraltar at the same time.

Over 2500 athletes, officials and media from 22 of the member Islands descended on Gibraltar to take part in seven days of intense competition.

Hosting the Games, Gibraltar's athletes had the chance to showcase their efforts and skills at home with an unprecedented level of support from families, friends and Gibraltarians from all walks of life.

[Text Wrapping Break]Looking back at last year, the Minister for Sport, Steven Linares, recalled the events fondly.

“It is hard to believe that a year has already gone by since the Games started,” he said.

“It was a magnificent week which was made possible through the sheer hard work and determination of hundreds of people who were involved in one way or another.”

“Our athletes rose to the occasion and produced performances that Gibraltar continues to be proud of.”

“I do maintain however that one of the major successes of the Games was not the medal tally but the manner in which Gibraltar embraced and supported the events in general.”

“Record attendances were reported at sports which would normally not have welcomed any spectators such was the level of support.”

“It was a brilliant showcase of Gibraltar at its absolute best. I am extremely proud to have been involved in bringing the Games to Gibraltar.”

Already Gibraltar's sports people have started to prepare for the next Island Games, although initial indications are that the numbers travelling to Guernesy could be much less than those seen participating in Gibraltar.

At least one major sport already is understood to have indicated it is unlikely to attend next year if the games go ahead, due to a clash with other European competitions.