We are just days away from the start of the 2019 Natwest Island Games. The Europa Point Sports Complex will be the venue for the opening ceremony as thousands of athletes from across the globe assemble.
Proceedings will see a display by the combined bands of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and The Royal Marines, the traditional ‘Water Ceremony’, where water from each competing island is poured into a cauldron and will conclude with a choreographed piece by local dancer Nathan Conroy.
With the backdrop of the Strait of Gibraltar and Africa in the distance, it’s sure to be a spectacle that will live long in the memory.
The Rock’s Shooters have been largely responsible for Gibraltar’s medals over the years. Gotland 2017 was a great example. With 26 medals overall, 17 of them came from the shooting range.
Expectations are high for the likes of Jonathan Patron, sisters Stephanie and Natalie Piri and co. but recent history proves it’s the sort of pressure they thrive on.
Sports such as Table Tennis and Squash have lived on the fringes for years – but for the week ahead those sports and their respective athletes will be performing on the big stage. The new Europa Point Sports Complex is virtually complete. This will house a group of 6 squash courts.
There will be 2 movable walls to provide 2 full sized doubles courts. The complex boasts superb viewing areas with terraced seating for the 2 show courts.
The return of Judo is another plus. A sport last included in the Games back in 2009 on the Swedish island of Aland. On that occasion, Gibraltar picked up two bronze medals courtesy of Stuart Dalmedo and Liam Conroy.
A decade later, our current crop of martial artists are hopeful of similar, if not greater success.
Now, I’ll let you into a little secret here, but keep it between us –Basketball is the one not to be missed. No excuses. There is so much at stake for Gibraltar after coming so close to claiming gold two years ago in Gotland.
A cruel three-pointer in the final seconds of the most dramatic final gave the Cayman Islands the victory – 82–80! Adam Cassaglia’s men will be desperate to make amends this time round.
Day 1 of competition will be dominated by the Triathlon. Sure to cause temporary havoc to Gibraltar’s traffic, but who cares? Gibraltar achieved a very impressive Bronze in the team event in Gotland and have done relatively well in previous Games. However, local triathlete Chris Walker isn’t quite as confident this time round…
“We’ve done a detailed analysis of the competition and our event will be the most competitive triathlon ever in the Island Games with more male and female competitors than ever before. Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man have really strong teams, so all we can do is guarantee total carnage and 200% effort!”
Ten Pin Bowling Games was introduced to the games in 1999. A first and last for the sport, but after a hiatus spanning 20 years it’s finally been restored!
Cycling is perhaps the sport most menacing for the visiting athletes. Gibraltar’s terrain makes the course as grueling as it is unique. Some of the islands boast real quality and many of their cyclists go on to compete professionally.
Mark Cavendish won 2 Gold medals for Jersey at the 2003 Island Games held in Guernsey, before going on to become one of the most successful cyclists the world has ever seen. He has won 30 Tour de France stages, putting him second on the all-time list.
For Gibraltar, years became months, months became weeks and the time has finally come. History will be made over the coming week at what’s been dubbed our own Olympic Games. Let’s do it.
Tickets can be purchased here
*Tickets include a return shuttle service and programme. They are £15 each and are limited to four per person.