Friday 30th June
Our final day of competition in Gotland. For some the games had already ended and they'd been enjoying Thursday night and celebrating their success, for others Friday was the culmination of their events. There were numerous medal chances for Guernsey on the final day and yet again it was impossible for us to get to see each and every event. We all headed off in different directions with some trips to the airport to drop off early departures thrown in too.
Our men's and women's basketball teams were both in bronze play-off finals. The ladies went first and as I walked into the Maxi Arena with 19 second left on the clock the score was so close between Guernsey and the Cayman Islands that the tension was overwhelming. The noisy Green Army support was in full force. The girls sitting on the sidelines watching were holding hands willing the clock to count down determined to avoid a repeat of Jersey when they just missed out. Some of them told us later that that had really been playing on their minds. The reaction at the end of the game was wonderful with all of them running on to the court to celebrate together. 60-55 securing Guernsey the bronze medal. The ladies were hoping their medal would prove a boost to their men's team who were on court straight afterwards taking on the 2015 gold medalists Saaremaa. The first half of the game was very evenly matched with the score at 30-30 but that changed after half time with Saaremaa eventually winning 75-54
While a lot of the focus is on the medals sometimes it's the results that go the other way that really stay with you. I know the men's team were really disappointed to miss out on the bronze medal and that's just putting it mildly. I was gutted for them that their Island Games ambitions hadn't been achieved. The thing is, we at GIGA are still so proud of the whole team. They've been brilliant as part of the wider Team Guernsey and are hugely enthusiastic supporters of each other but also their fellow Guernsey athletes. Well done guys.
The bronze medal football match between Menorca and Guernsey was a long way outside of Visby. When we got there it was 1-0 to Guernsey, Matt Loaring having scored. We arrived in time to see most of the second half in the wind and the rain. Sadly there wasn't a lot of atmosphere at the game because it wasn't an easy one for the supporters to get to. The 5 of us did our bit to make some noise for Guernsey and we had the flags out too. We'd missed the only goal of the game but were so pleased to be there at full time for the team to win their bronze medals. Of the 20 footballers, 15 of them are new to the Island Games so to end the week with a medal was a real achievement for them. They didn't quite get the medal ceremony that some of the other sports have enjoyed, being presented with their medals in the middle of a car park! It was great to see them all come in to dinner proudly wearing their medals though, it clearly meant a lot to them.
Tennis finished fairly late in the day with the mixed doubles final and that was a gold medal for Jo Dyer and Rob West. Jo's been described as the most excited gold medalist of the week by some of the media. I think she had every right to be very excited.
The athletics finished off on Friday with the relays and half marathon, two amazing performances by Guernsey stalwarts Lee Merrien and Louise Perrio saw them both taking gold in the half marathon. It's been reported this is Lee's last games and if that's the case then that was a rather nice way to go out. We still hope to see Lee in Gibraltar in two years time.
Whilst some of our team were giving it their all in their final performances, back at the hotel there was the business of packing and making sure everything was ready for an early departure for some of us. Cycling had the unenviable task of trying to fit everything back in their vans and as you'll see that's a fairly complicated process. The Clarion hotel has been great to us this week. The staff have been so helpful, provided great food and shown so much interest in our island and our sports people. After pretty much taking over their hotel for the last week we wanted to leave them with something to remind them of us. Jon and Brian presented a special plaque to Maria from the hotel. One of the comments from the staff this week was about how much Guernsey people eat, they said it was great to see no leftovers at breakfast and dinner. I think we might've eaten them out of food.
Everyone had been instructed to gather in reception at 6.20pm ready to walk to the Closing Ceremony which was just round the corner from our hotel. Swimmer, Tom Hollingsworth had been chosen to carry the flag for the ceremony. Gotland is Tom's sixth games and he's won six gold medals and a silver this time round. His totals over the course of six games are 21 gold, 16 silver and 5 bronze. It's a rather impressive tally isn't it? He's hoping to keep swimming until Guernsey 2021 at least.
Our teams gathered to march with their sports, rather than island, for the Closing Ceremony as part of a short parade. There were a few speeches and the official handing over of the flag to the next hosts, Gibraltar, in 2019. There's a lot of shirt swapping at the closing ceremony so it's soon difficult to tell who belongs to which island any more because they're all wearing each other's clothes. And then the party starts. Our team deserved to have a great night and we hope they did. Some of them certainly looked like they had at the 5am get together for the first flight. I won't name and shame anyone because they all made it to the airport, eventually.
It's been another great Island Games week. The team is exhausted and it's been emotional but those of us from the Guernsey Island Games Association just want to say a huge thank you to all our athletes. We are so proud to have had each and every one of you in Team Guernsey. Thank you to the supporters that have traveled with us and those of you who've been following from home. Now the planning starts for Gibraltar. We'll see you there in two years time!
Thursday 29th June
It's the penultimate day of competition at the Gotland games. Another busy one for the team and for us as management we've been fitting in some admin to make sure the team get home, along with some supporting of our teams.
We started at swimming heats this morning. It's been really crowded in the pool. It's just a little one with five lanes and not a lot of room for spectators. We squeezed in to see how our guys and girls were doing. It's a very well oiled machine in the swimming heats. Everyone knows what they're doing and just get on with it. We've actually got a couple of people from Guernsey helping with the technical side of things at the pool. People like Tania, Karen and Davina are hugely important to the successful running of the Games, we couldn't do it without them.
Men's tennis has been more than half an hour's drive away from Visby while the ladies have been playing much closer to home so today our attache team took us out to Slite to do some cheering for the men's singles and doubles. Pat Ogier was the first match we saw and he was getting some good ol' Guernsey support. He finished off his Saaremaa opponent in confident style 6-2, 6-2. We double checked the etiquette situation first but then gave him some good Green Army support. We met Bjorn at the tennis, he's from Gotland but has become a real Guernsey fan this week. We gave him one of our flags so he looks the part now too.
The men's doubles was going to be an hour or so later and we were quite near the second golf course so we popped over there to see how Guernsey was getting on. It was so windy! It was causing problems for all the golfers. We caught up with a couple of them but they weren't particularly enjoying the conditions. Wandering around a golf course is not my natural habitat so today we spent a bit of time sheltering behind a tree to avoid any stray balls. Who knew where the wind was going to take them and I am not at all good at following where those things go once they leave the tee.
From there some of us went back to the tennis for the doubles. Pat and Nico were in control of the first set when we got there and went on to take it against Jersey opponents. Jersey took the second set taking it to a tie break. We brought out the chants and to be frank Jersey's supporters were coming up with some interesting songs but they were no competition for us. You need support, give us a call.
Badminton have had a great day today. Special mention goes to Jordan Trebert, he's unseeded and he's beaten three seeds to get to the men's singles final. He'll play Mark Constable from Jersey who is the top seed. He's also through to an all Guernsey mixed doubles final which means a gold and silver coming Team Guernsey's way. Matt Haynes who is here as a competitor has also been chief chanter at the Badminton this week, so much so the man barely has any voice left. Let's hope it holds out for finals day.
Medals have been pouring in from the pool this evening. It's their last night and they are really going for it. As per usual our swimming team have outdone themselves. Our shooters and archers have finished today too. Nikki Trebert won a gold medal in the 25m standard pistol today setting a new island games record in the process by 30 points. It was her own record she's beaten. Our archery team had said at the start of the week they wanted to get more medals than they'd had in Jersey, that was 8. They'd done that by day two. At the end of their games, with a team silver in the Compound today the final tally is 13. They're at their sport party tonight and they've certainly earned their celebrations.
Back at the hotel and we've been handing out kit to some of the staff here. They have been so good to us and have even been out supporting the sports in their spare time. Tanya and Viktoria are loving the football. Now they have their own Team Guernsey shirts to wear when they're cheering the boys on in their bronze play-off match tomorrow.
Thursday is a bit of a funny day in a way. It's an end to competition for some but others are still building to their final events. We're so proud of all our team and are wishing everyone success on the final day and looking forward to celebrating with you all at the Closing Ceremony.
Wednesday 28th June
We're more than halfway there now. Island Games week goes so quickly and there's still so much to see and so many places to be. Today we started at the shooting watching Matt Guille and Lee Roussel in the 300m Prone team event. Once we'd got our ear plugs in it was really interesting to watch. You can see the shooters take one or two deep breaths to settle themselves shortly before they take their shots and the rifles ranged from ones that looked like they had been totally carved out of wood to the latest in high tech. Some of the competitors were shooting with borrowed equipment. Our team came 4th but Matt was telling us that sometimes he knows as soon as he lies down that he's not going to have a good day. As he was shooting again this afternoon he told us he had to take some time out and clear his head before trying again.
From the rifle range we split our team and some of us went off to the golf. It was at the course near Visby today and is set on the coast. It's a beautiful location but the golfers have all been telling us it's quite a tricky course to play. I was with the Bailiff and Graham Chester from the Sports Commission and we spotted some of the men as we were arriving. They'd only teed off a short time before. We followed them for a bit but decided we might not be helping much as things didn't seem to be going quite to plan for them. In fact we all spent some time searching for Jack Mitchell's balls but we couldn't find them so we decided to clear off and try and catch up with the ladies who were due to be finishing. It was glorious weather at the course today, the best so far but the forecast isn't looking too favourable for later in the week.
We stopped for lunch at the clubhouse whilst we waited for the ladies and I had my first swedish meatballs of the trip. They were delicious, served with crushed potatoes, cream sauce and ligonberries. I'd never had ligonberries before. They're a native fruit. Back in 2014 they were the new superfood and there was even suggestions you could eat them and then eat as much junk food as you liked because they'll help you lose weight. I decided that was a good sign for the ice cream which you'll hear about later.
Whilst we were enjoying the sunshine at the golf, some of my GIGA colleagues were elsewhere. Watching the volleyball to be precise. They saw the Guernsey ladies volleyball team get their first win of the Games against the hosts Gotland. There was also a first win for the men's team. If you were wondering #WheresBrian today, well he was loving the volleyball and has decided he's their secret weapon because they win every time he turns up.
We as a management team are spending a lot of time with our VIPs who have come out to support Team Guernsey. In fact, Kathy, Karen and I now have it in our heads that we are the Bailiff's protection detail and have taken to talking randomly into our wrists and making sure he's safe at all times. Thankfully Sir Richard is taking our crazy antics in his stride, although I think he might like to keep us back home. On a serious note the Bailiff has been keen to get round as many sports as possible and it's been really nice to see how much it's meant to our athletes to have his support.
A few miles outside Visby was the location for the Cycling Road Race today. Surrounded by fields filled with poppies, it was another beautiful place and reminded us again just how big this island is once you're outside the main town of Visby. The Ladies won team bronze for their road race. We caught the start of the men's but had to head back before the finish. That's one of the frustrating things about having so many sports to see and not enough hours in the day.
The reason for our return to Visby was actually for a presentation. It happened to be very close to the amazing ice cream shop with more than 300 flavours that everyone has been raving about so for research purposes we had to go in. I think we need one of these in Guernsey! It was amazing. "Team Guernsey back, again" said one of the people working there. I told him it was actually just my first time but asked if we'd been the team they'd seen in there the most this week. Turns out we are. Team Guernsey loves ice cream. You heard it here first. It doesn't seem to be having a negative impact on the medals coming in.
#WheresBrian you might be wondering once again? This evening he was at a presentation about the Gibraltar games in 2019. In fact all five of us from the management team in Gotland were. It was really positive to hear how well their planning seems to be going and gave us a chance to catch up with some of the sports organisers too. We've now got lots of contacts we can pass on to our sports to get ready for 2 years time. Although it seems strange to be thinking about it in the middle of this games it'll come round so quickly.
It's been another busy night for athletics and swimming tonight with more medals for both. The Bailiff has been supporting our swimmers tonight. How do we get to so many places you might wonder? Each island has their own dedicated attache and we're lucky enough to have three. Anna, Jennifer and Andreas have been fab this week and have been giving us lifts all over the island. Anna is a Gotland native and has represented the island at table tennis in the past. As a teacher she was keen to use her holiday time to be involved in the Games and it's volunteers like her who have such a huge impact on making the Games great. It also gives us a chance to learn more about Gotland. Today Anna told us the island only has one dangerous snake. It's a huggorm, which is an adder to you and me. I'm glad she told us that after we'd been tramping around the countryside!
Ready for dinner now. Turns out it's meatballs. Time to come up with a plan for tomorrow. Lots more sport to see and cheering to be done by us. Green Army!
Tuesday 27th June
One of the good things about sharing a hotel as a team is the chance to catch up with everyone over breakfast, hear how their events went the day before and what they've got coming up for the day ahead. It really boosts the team atmosphere and there was lots to talk about today.
Before we set out for the day today we checked in with our medical team. We have four lovely gentlemen here as our official medical team in Gotland. Dr Ian Gee, Stuart Evans, Simon Guest and Glenn Etherington. Now they weren't particularly busy when we stopped by as you might be able to guess from the photo but they have been starting at around 6.45am taping people up for the day ahead and have mostly been doing physio and massage rather than anything too serious, thankfully. To keep themselves entertained they have a word of the day. Today's word is beatinist - most remarkable or unusual. Your challenge is to use that in a sentence today. Our medical team will be pleased if you do.
Today we've been exercising our vocal chords at the volleyball and basketball with some Green Army chants. Guernsey beat Jersey in the basketball to go through to the quarter finals and take on Froya in that tomorrow. We stopped by tennis and badminton too but didn't time our visits very well to see much action. We did make it to the latter part of the table tennis to see it reach 3-3 and come down to the deciding match between Josh Stacey and his Greenland opponent. It was edge of your seat stuff and so tense but what a brilliant win for Guernsey and a well deserved team gold. The team said this one meant a lot. Their fans at home were able to keep in touch with Manager Christine all over social media and streaming their matches. It's the first time she's streamed anything this week. In fact this games is probably the first where so many individual sports have been able to share their success up to the minute with those at home.
Having been at table tennis a couple of times in the last two days a few of us have become quite convinced that Josh Butler, the table tennis coach, can communicate in code based on the way he opens a bottle of water. He has various techniques for unscrewing a cap before handing it to his players, sometimes it's forehand, sometimes backhand, sometimes a twist over the top and sometimes it's off before it even gets to the player. A table tennis insider tells us when that happens Josh has had a sip.
From table tennis it was over to the Men's Mountain Bike Cross Country, spread over an area just outside the ramparts of Visby. We walked a large section of the course trying to shout as loud as possible for our team, the ramparts helping create a rather pleasing echo of our Guernsey chants. The fight to the finish to see James Roe take the gold medal by just one second was incredible and a brilliant ride by 16 year old Sam Culverwell to take 4th place.
At the football tonight it finished 1-1 between Guernsey and Saaremaa with Guernsey going through to play the Isle of Man on Thursday. If you were watching the ITV stream of the game you might've heard some of our insightful commentary helping out Tony Curr. But the viewers were loving the announcer tonight, as were we in the crowd. The one which had us in fits was when she told us she had a key in her pocket and she thought it was for a door. Maybe you had to be there, or watching live. It does make our list of favourite comments of the week, as does "do you not need a mountain for mountain biking?" or when a member of our management committee asked a Gotland attache whether it snows here. Not in June was the reply!
Just before I go and prepare for another busy day tomorrow, I just wanted to ask for your help. We keep losing our GIGA Chairman Brian Allen. It's because he's always stopping to chat to folk, which isn't a problem because it is the friendly games after all but it does mean we're often losing track of him and asking #wheresBrian so if you're in Gotland this week and happen to spot him let us know on twitter please.
Monday 26th June
What a day for Team Guernsey. It's hard to know where to start but as a GIGA committee we've been trying to split ourselves into pieces to get round as many sports as possible but you can never get to everything no matter how hard you try.
We started our day at badminton, volleyball and basketball. Guernsey's women's basketball team beat the Isle of Man. The Maxi Arena is an amazing facility purpose built I've been told for the Gotland women's team who play in the top Swedish league. There weren't many folk there for the early morning start but you could tell Guernsey were in because the men's team were there to support the girls and were making plenty of noise, not to mention streaming live on facebook to friends and family back home. There was some special commentary going on. The men take on Jersey in the same venue tomorrow and I've promised to go in overnight and paint the court green because Guernsey aren't happy that it's red!
From basketball I moved on to table tennis and the end of the group stages. I caught the end of their match against Jersey which they won and then stayed with them through their match against Greenland. It was a tense affair that eventually went Greenland's way 4-3 but weirdly that meant all the group games had been won 4-3 and it came down to countbacks to work out who the top two teams were. It turned out to be Greenland top with Guernsey second and Jersey third, much to our delight of course. That set Guernsey up for a semi final against Gotland in the afternoon. Guernsey's table tennis players did an amazing job, with three of them beating players they'd not beaten before to win the semi final. They take on Greenland in the final tomorrow at 1pm. I met up with some of the team when I got back to the hotel tonight and they are still on a high, although totally exhausted. They tell me lie-ins are a priority for the morning and then as much rest as possible before their final tomorrow.
We were on our way to see the Men's team tennis semi final when we heard they'd taken bronze. We were disappointed we hadn't made it out to see them. Their venue is about 40 minutes drive from Visby. We turned the cars around and headed for something nearby. A quick check on our programmes and maps and we realised we weren't too far from archery. We decided to stop by and see how the team were getting on. They were shooting the 1440 Recurve and Compound events. The venue is a little out of the way, which is best when people are shooting arrows at targets but fortunately for all of us the sun had come out and it was a lovely spot to stop and watch.
I don't know if you've ever watched archery before but I really enjoy it. I'm not always entirely sure what's happening but they're a friendly bunch and they've explained it to me several times now. If you are in Gotland this week and fancy popping along to see them, ask when they think will be best for a visit and they'll do their best to take the time to talk you through everything. We thought we might be asking stupid questions and probably were but they still spent time talking to us about it all. And what a day it turned out to be for them. Team Manager Steve Yates had confidently told the media ahead of the games that they'd at least equal their record of 8 medals from the Jersey games. Well they nearly did it on day one! 7 medals for the team including individual gold for Lisa Gray in the Recurve and team gold in the Recurve too. Lisa set several new records today too. An excellent day for the whole Archery team. Well done all.
From Archery to Athletics ahead of the big badminton final in the team event between Guernsey and Jersey. We were in the stadium to see Louise Perrio take the first gold of the games for athletics in the 10,000m and Louise had everyone in the stands on their feet as she came down the home straight, the rather large Guernsey contingent cheering her to victory. We also watched Alastair Chalmers take gold and Sam Wallbridge silver in the 400m hurdles. We had to leave before the racing was finished as we needed to make it to the badminton final too. It's hard being in more than one place at a time.
Badminton was filled with Guernsey supporters for the clash against old rivals Jersey. At stake a team gold. Now the Green Army chant is a staple of the volleyball and basketball venues but not necessarily all other venues. We gave it a go at table tennis this morning with some success and definitely some enthusiasm from some of their team but when we started it at badminton there was just the two of us for a while. We're loud though so it's okay. I think it was because we were stepping on Matt Haynes toes as he'd been leading the chant up til then. Karen, as an ex-Volleyballer says he needs a bit of training in hold his Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrmyyyyy but he was making a valiant effort and his voice held out just long enough and certainly encouraged the badminton team to their win. Another gold medal for Guernsey!
Getting back to the hotel late this evening it was so great to see so many happy faces and sports sharing in the success of fellow sports. Our medals board is filling up well in the bar.
I know there are many more medals and results that I haven't mentioned from today, the likes of swimming, shooting and cycling to mention a few, and don't think that we aren't proud of you all or don't know what you've done today. We've been streaming matches and events on facebook while on the move and getting updates from coaches. It's been a fabulous day. Good luck to everyone tomorrow. As we go to bed tonight Guernsey already has 30 medals on the medal table and is in third position overall. Not bad for day two, is it?
Sunday 25th June
Day one of actual events for Team Guernsey. It started with a good breakfast for our competitors or seven if you're Martin Yabsley but it must've done the trick for him as Basketball went on to win their game against Froya. The waffle machine is proving particularly popular now that people have mastered the technique. It's also a good chance for the team to catch up before their events and if they've got some time plan which events they want to see.
Triathlon was just down the road from our hotel this morning which meant a lot of sports were able to come along and cheer on the team. The windy weather meant the waves were pretty big, maybe not if you're from Guernsey mind you. The decision was taken to shorten the swimming section because of the conditions. It was a rather mild 15 degrees apparently and the triathletes said the water doesn't taste as salty as at home and given that they had a fair few mouthfuls of it today they should know.
The Bailiff is Team Guernsey's number one supporter and will be found at as many sports as possible this week. He was very ably wrangling the giant Guernsey flag along with GIGA Chairman Brian Allen in rather windy conditions to cheer the girls on. They started at 1130. Amy Critchlow went on to finish 5th, Laura McCarthy 10th and Magda Puzio 12th which after a fair amount of deliberation and to-ing and fro-ing became team silver, then bronze, then back to SILVER. A fact the ladies were rather delighted about.
They hadn't even finished their race when the men went into the water to start their swim, it had also been shortened from the original distance. James Travers finished 5th, Josh Lewis 8th, Dan Galpin was reportedly flying on the run (not literally as that would be considered cheating) and came in 11th. A little further back and it was 15th for Bob Guilbert, 16th for Alan Rowe, 22nd for Ben Creasey and 23rd for Max Hunter. And that meant team silver for the men too. Their medal ceremony wasn't until the evening so I did catch a couple of them back in the hotel bar after the race enjoying some well deserved carbs in the form of a pint, alongside plenty of water. Don't worry they were re-hydrating. It's fair to say the many other members of Team Guernsey watching the triathletes today were hugely impressed by them and their efforts.
Whilst this was all going on Guernsey shooters Lee Roussel and Matt Guille had bagged the first gold of the games for Guernsey in the NRSA 100 yards Prone Rifle. There was also a bronze medal for shooting later in the ISSF 10m Air Pistol - Team for Nikki Trebert and Becky Margetts.
Come lunchtime in Visby and it seems word has spread in the hotel about a very reasonably priced local eatery just down the road because the small pizza restaurant was filled with Guernsey folk this lunchtime. We've got some special visitors from Guernsey here in Visby at the moment. The organisers of the 2021 games are here to check things out and maybe get some ideas for their turn in Guernsey in 4 years time. We bumped into them there too this lunchtime, it's clearly the place to be.
Back at the hotel and I was snooping on a bit of the swimming team meeting, curious about why they were carrying around an inflatable sheep. It's a mascot wasn't quite enough information for me. So it turns out that the youngest member of the team is responsible for this mascot, so this year that's Charlie-Joe. As for why an inflatable sheep, Brian tells me it's because back in the day, a long long time ago there weren't many choices for inflatables. Apparently responsibility for the mascot can be transferred to other members of the team as a forfeit for whatever reason. The other swimming teams will also be trying to steal the poor sheep throughout the week. It's got a name too. It tends to be named after the swimmer who just missed out on selection. So this year's sheep is called Jurki.
It was a good evening at the Gutavallen for the athletics which culminated in the final of the 10,000m. Lee Merrien took silver in what for a long time was just a race between him and eventual gold medallist Oliver Lockley from the Isle of Man. Carl Holden finished 10th. Lots of our athletes made it through their heats so I'm sure we'll see more from the track this week.
We managed to catch the medal ceremony for our triathletes at the Games Street. It was great to see them on the podiums, although 7 on the one spot was rather crowded for the men. We happened to be in the right place at the right time to see Sark's shooting team get their bronze medal too.
Before I go, time to tell you about one more competition going on round here. As if the sport wasn't enough, it would seem everyone is getting slightly obsessed about their step count at the end of each day. Highest I've heard of so far was 30,000 and I'd been proud of 14K!
Saturday 24th June
Today was spent passing time until the evening's Opening Ceremony. Some sports used the opportunity to train at their venues and others to soak up the atmosphere of Visby. With all of the islands here there was always someone from another island to say hello to or more importantly to swap pin badges with.
In a team as big as ours there are a lot of people that won't have met before they became part of Team Guernsey, they've been getting to know each other and catching up with friends from other islands as well. You'll see that Christine from Table Tennis has become firm friends with Sam and Martin from Basketball.
I've heard that there's an amazing ice cream shop here with 290 different flavours! I've not tried any yet myself but Basketball reckon they can work their way through all the flavours this week.
We all got together just after 5, everyone with a Guernsey flag to hand ready to head outside the walls of Visby to gather together ahead of a parade through the streets of the city. It was a pretty amazing sight to see all of the islands together getting rowdy and ready for the ceremony. I think it's safe to say we were the loudest there.
Emma Webb from Basketball lead us out as our flag bearer. Gotland is Emma's 8th games and she's won gold medals in both Basketball and Table Tennis. Carys Batiste from Badminton and Amelia Lees from Athletics were our water carriers, having collected some sea water from Havelet a few weeks ago. There were many choruses of Green Army on the way through the streets and Basketball and Volleyball are definitely the noisiest contingents in the team. The children watching us go by were collecting armfuls of flags and pins from all the islands.
We had to wait outside the area being used for the ceremony and that's where some of our team were showing off their many talents. You might well see Dave Wilson from Basketball cartwheeling in the Guernsey Press at some point. He had to do more than one take and I'm not sure the photographer was entirely happy with them. There appears to be many a hidden talent within Basketball, they were keeping us entertained while we waited.
You can see a taste of what the atmosphere was like on our facebook page in some of the videos there.
The ceremony itself saw us all crowded into an area normally used for jousting tournaments and after the official business was done we were treated to a show. East versus West had us rooting for different Knights. To round off the evening we had a go at the Island Games dance, it proved more complicated than you might imagine.
Triathlon is the first event tomorrow and they're hoping for some individual and team medals. We'll keep you up to date through the day on twitter.
Friday 23rd JuneIt's been a long day of travel for Team Guernsey. We had 3 flights across 2 planes but our first was delayed by 3 hours which meant a similar issue for our last plane.The good news is the team was in good spirits because we're on our way. Our team really drew a lot of attention taking over Guernsey airport in our green and white kit courtesy of our sponsors Generali.The longest of days has been for Karen from the GIGA board as she has been at Guernsey airport all day making sure everything runs as smoothly as it could from our side of things. Unfortunately technical issues, a plane bursting a tyre on the runway and the airport's two x-ray machines packing up must mean we've got all the problems out the way.Anyway who cares about all that now. We're in Gotland and that's what counts.Our hotel is within the 13th century ramparts of the city of Visby. It's a beautiful place. In fact it's a UNESCO World Heritage site. Gotland has a population of more than 57,000 and more than 23,000 of them live in Visby.For those of the team who arrived early in the day there's been a chance to suss out their venues and some even got a bit of training in too. They're a dedicated bunch.Tomorrow there'll be more opportunities to find our way around Visby ahead of the opening ceremony in the evening. That's happening at the Strandgärdet at 7pm. We're told the show will last about 2 hours and feature all the typical things as well as knights, fire, dancing and singing!Gotland seem to like singing and dancing. They released their official song last week and there's a dance to go along with it. I'm not sure any of us have mastered it yet but we'll have it down by the end of the week for sure.Competition starts on Sunday. We can't wait.
Thursday 22nd June
The day is almost here! Team Guernsey is off to the Island Games tomorrow. After months of preparation by our many athletes in 13 sports they are ready to be put to the test. Some have experienced Gotland before when the games was last held there in 1999, for others it will be a completely new experience.
Over the next week we'll keep you up to date with how Team Guernsey gets on, here on this blog. We might also let you in on a few behind the scenes Team Guernsey moments.
It's an early start for some of us tomorrow morning. We've chartered flights to fly us direct into Gotland but we need to do 3 flights to get everyone there. We've got a big team and we've got some supporters travelling with us too. That means lots of luggage. Sports teams don't travel light.
In fact there are four vans of kit already on the road to Gotland. They left Guernsey on Tuesday. 2 of them are from the Velo Club, there's a triathlon van and an archery van too. They've got their own kit on board but the archery van has also got some javelins and football kit too. They've been putting in 12 or 13 hour days on the road and sampling some local cuisine en route, as you'll see below!
Packing is a serious business and while some might leave it to the last minute (I might be talking about myself here) others have been ready to go since last weekend. Katie Cochrane from Basketball might be our most organised competitor. She was ready to go last Sunday. We've got 15 kg of luggage each with some extra allowances here and there for team kit but we want the plane to be able to take off so we've all got to be pretty strict with ourselves.
Once we arrive in Gotland tomorrow we'll be taken to our hotel and get ourselves settled. Some people have got training sessions booked, others will be trying to find their way around the various venues in Visby. We've got the Opening Ceremony on Saturday evening and down to the serious business of competing from Sunday.
Good luck Team Guernsey, we're with you all the way. Enjoy and do yourselves proud!