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‘Our Sporting Heroes’ opens its doors to the public

A major exhibition mapping Gibraltar’s participation in the NatWest International Island Games was formally opened last night at an event attended by over 200 guests, including many of the sportsmen and women who competed for Gibraltar over the past three decades.

The exhibition, jointly organised by Gibraltar Cultural Services and the Gibraltar Chronicle, uses photographs, media cuttings, memorabilia and video footage to celebrate Gibraltar’s participation in the games over three decades.

‘Our Sporting Heroes’ was be opened by the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, who attended the reception shortly after returning to Gibraltar from New York, where he had addressed the UN Committee of 24 on decolonisation.

“On these panels you see heroes of games past,” Mr Picardo said.

But he wanted to thank the “unsung heroes” of the next games, including the many people involved in ensuring the sporting facilities are ready on time and the Gibraltar Island Games Association.

“When we think about sports in Gibraltar we think about a lot of achievement and there are so many people in Gibraltar who punch above their weight in their sport,” he said.

“I think we have to reflect on the fact that the closure of the frontier made Gibraltar look inwards and one of the things that Gibraltar did when it looked inward was dedicate itself to sport.”

“From 1969 a lot of what we did at the weekends and a lot of what we channelled our energy into was sports.”

Gibraltar became a “massive sporting arena”, Mr Picardo added.

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Johnny Bugeja, the Gibraltar Chronicle photographer who shot most of the images on display at the exhibition, said the exhibition is not about winners or losers, but about the “local superstars of sports”.

“Although there are plenty of well-known athletes it is about the love and the enjoyment of sports,” Mr Bugeja.

Mr Bugeja said he has always heard that “sport is beauty in motion with a powerful, competitive edge”.

He said: “We as photographers are masters in capturing that moment.”

“As you can see around you I have managed to capture that moment that is gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”

“I have tried to give our local sporting heroes unforgettable images and memories that will never be erased.”

Gibraltar Chronicle editor, Brian Reyes, added: “We had one clear aim.”

“What we wanted to do was to celebrate your participation in the games over so many years.”

“We wanted to honour your effort, your commitment and we wanted to honour the passion that you bring to your sports, not just as individuals but collectively.”

“And we wanted to celebrate the sense of community that sports and the Island Games has fostered in Gibraltar that is so positive in the community.”

Among the guests at the opening last night were sportsmen and women who had competed for Gibraltar in the past.

Runner Sharron Mifsud-Celecia was 25-years old when she took part in the Sunshine Games in 1995.

On seeing her photograph featured in the exhibition, she said: “Just two weeks ago I was able to do the 100 metres and 200 metres run.”

“I am nearly 50 now and I am happy I still have it in me.”

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Ms Mifsud-Celecia won four medals at the Sunshine Games – a Double Silver for the relay and 400 meters and a Double Bronze for the 100 meters and 200 meters.

At present she is the youth coach for athletics and a Masters Athlete.

Linda Alvarez, the chairwoman of the organising committee for this year’s Island Games, was also at the launch of the exhibition.

“I think this is absolutely amazing and it has brought back so many memories for all of us,” she said.

“We have all been through this and to start looking through old photos and memorabilia and it is great that we have a record of this now.”

“I kept a lot of things from the Games and collected it over the years but never had the opportunity to show it off and it is great that all these things can be displayed for everyone to see.”

As part of the exhibition, GCS will be organising public tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at midday from June 25 to July 11, 2019.

To book your place please contact the GCS Development Unit on 20043709 or info@culture.gi

The exhibition will be held from today until July 13 at the Gustavo Bacarisas Galleries, in Casemates Square.

Pic by Stephen Ignacio