Team Gibraltar sets off for Island Games
By Eyleen Gomez in Guernsey
“Boarding for the Island Games is open.”
The airport message early on Friday morning signalled the start of Team Gibraltar’s journey to Guernsey to represent the Rock in the Guernsey 2023 Natwest International Island Games.
Among them was Louis Chichon, a Team Gibraltar manager and Gibraltar’s flag bearer.
“There will always be challenges but the athletes from all the sports are ready for it,” he said.
“So, it's up to them now to perform.”
Mr Chichon said Team Gibraltar will compete in the hope of bringing home some medals, but that the games were about much more than that.
“The main thing is always to participate,” he said.
“And of course, medals are bonuses.”
Knowing that people in Gibraltar will be following their performance closely will give the athletes a boost and “make Gibraltar perform better,” he added.
On Friday morning, the mood among the athletes was one of both nerves and excitement.
Among them were Island Games veterans who know what to expect and younger athletes taking part in their first games.
But all were thrilled to be finally setting off after months of intense training to get ready.
Steven Linares, the Minister for Sport, also travelled with Team Gibraltar.
“I’m very excited to see all these athletes representing Gibraltar. I'm looking forward to it,” he said.
Mr Linares had planned on being in Guernsey for the length of the Island Games but will have to return to the Rock on Sunday ahead of next week’s budget debate in Parliament.
He said he would be watching the livestream of the games whenever his duties as a minister permit.
“All sportsmen or women participate in the name of Gibraltar, and I will be supporting them all,” he said.
Team Gibraltar landed at Jersey airport where they were greeted with a welcome over the tannoy.
From there they made their way to Guernsey where, upon arrival at their hotel, athletes such as the triathletes and cyclists got straight to building their bikes in preparation for a course reccy on Saturday.
The opening ceremony takes place on Saturday evening, with the first sports taking place on Sunday morning.