Rob Brooks had every reason to be delighted with Gibraltar’s mid-table finish in the Badminton team event at the 2017 Island Games in Gotland.
It’s a sport that has a much higher profile in some areas of the world than in others.
He had a team of 10 at his disposal picked from an association of just 120 members. Compare that to the Faroe Islands.
Similar to Gibraltar in population, although theirs boasts over 1,000 members (split between seven clubs). It’s an extremely popular sport in the British Isles as well.
Mark Constable became champion of England back in 2002. 15 years later in Gotland, he won Gold with Jersey at the tender age of 40.
This Summer the main focus will be the same once again for the Gibraltar National head coach:
“The individual events are purely down to the luck of the draw because the standard is so high – our aim is to compete as well as we possibly can in the team event”.
It’s been a steady rise for the Badminton squad. It wasn’t long ago they were making up part of the bottom tier of nations competing at the Games – they’d have been lucky to win a game. It’s a different story nowadays.
The hard work and dedication of the players and coaches alike has not been in vain. In the last couple of Games they’ve climbed their way into the relatively dizzying heights of the second tier. Fruits reaped.
Danish-born Kasper Thy Jessen is a Corporate Relationships Manager at Jyske Bank… he also happens to be Gibraltar’s top-ranked Badminton player, and has been for several years. A gentleman off-court, but a fighter on it.
Speaking of relationships, his wife Allison also makes up part of the squad. A great technician, she also competed in Gotland 2017. Two years – and two children – later she’s back feeling stronger than ever!
There’s a healthy blend of youth too. Henry Archer made his Island Games debut in Gotland in 2017.
Now 19, and regarded as a real star for the future, he’s juggling his Badminton with a degree in Physics and Chemistry – hopefully a formula for success. Amber Mae Prescott is the latest addition to the senior squad. Plenty of potential, but at just 14 years of age she’s seen as a rough diamond in need of a little polishing.
Rob Brooks is a measured man by nature, so it’s no surprise that his expectations on the court remain humble.
Off it however, he feels Gibraltar can put on a real show: “We have a lot to live up to.”
“All the athletes and officials that were here in 1995 always said they couldn’t wait to come back to Gibraltar, so we need to make it as good as, if not better, this time round!”
Gibraltar 2019 NatWest International Island Games XVIII. GBC Sports Reproter Robin Sheppard-Capurro reports on the Island Games for Reach-Alcance. Read Part 1 here.