23rd October 2017

WATCH: Young guns hit the track after winter of hard work

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Heavy downpours and sodden tracksuits rained off the first attempt at interviewing the athletics team at the Clickimin.

Despite this reporter getting nothing but a soggy notepad, members of the 24-strong team were hard at work putting together the final preparations for the competition in Sweden.

By the following day the clouds had cleared, with a chance to stop the ink from running.

“We don’t have an awful lot of time left, so it’s a case of polishing what we’ve done and going from there,” said team manager Elaine Park.

Shetland bagged 10 athletics medals in Jersey as part of a record Team Shetland medal haul.

Looking at the final team lists this year, there’s a mixture of familiar and new faces for the busy schedule in Gotland.

Among the more experienced is water carrier Faye Cox, of Unst, who took a bronze medal in the 100m and 200m events as well as winning gold in the 4x100m.

Middle distance runner Emma Leask will also be taking to the track. She won silver in the 400m last year and is hoping to add to her impressive medal tally.

“About half the team are new and haven’t been to a games before,” said Park.

“It’s always really encouraging to take the new ones along and see their reaction to the set-up of the games itself as well.”

Shetland will be competing in all four throwing events – hammer, discus, javelin, shot putt and hammer – as well as a full-spread in the jumping events.

Leigh Nicolson, 16, will experience the games for the first time, tackling all four throwing disciplines.

“It’s going good, there’s just a lot of training every week,” she said.” There’s a few of us this year and we all get on good.

“The javelin is probably my strongest [event].”

For Park, Jersey was certainly a games to remember.

“I loved the Jersey one, for obvious reasons in terms of finally getting my medal. The Jersey one was very good,” she said.

“From here on in there’s less pressure and expectation perhaps. That’s reassuring as well so I can just go and enjoy it.”

Island games athlete Leigh Nicholson practices shot put at a recent training session at the Clickimin track. Photo: Kevin Jones.

With Run-D.M.C. blaring out of a travel speaker, Lucy Holden and coach Martin Leyland were lifting the bar for the high jump.

Holden said she’s been busy in the gym in preparation for the contest, though the last couple of months have been spent training outdoors.

Two years ago she was too young to compete, though now the 16-year-old has the chance to pull on the spikes for the island games.

“I’m really excited,” she said.

“It [the training] has been excellent, they’ve really prepared us for it.”

Holden will also be travelling to Gotland fresh on the back of a junior inter-county record, reaching 1.61 metres. That would have been enough to earn her bronze in the 2015 games.

“Everybody has worked really hard through the winter; a lot of the technical work has already been done early season,” added Park.

“We’ve got an awful lot of competition opportunities now as well for some of the younger ones too, so it’s just a case of learning from what we’ve already done in the season and perfecting it from there.”

About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Press and Journal, The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

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