From Neil Riddell in Åland Photos by Kevin Jones
It was a highly productive first morning in the pool for Shetland’s swimmers at the Ålands Idrottscenter as they qualified for four of Monday evening’s finals, with Andrea Strachan recording the fastest heat time in the 50m breaststroke to give her a great chance of winning a medal.
Strachan will start in lane four after recording a time of 35.16 seconds – nearly half a second faster than her nearest challenger, Sara Oksman from host island Åland – as she strives to repeat her superb gold medal-winning performance in Rhodes two years ago.
Gulberwick’s Amy Harper also excelled herself to qualify for the 200m freestyle final with a time of 2:13.27, the eighth fastest time, while the girls’ 50m freestyle relay team of Strachan, Harper, Nicole Petursdottir and Jessika Swanson earned their place in the final thanks to an eighth-place time of 1:57.54.
In the fiercly competitive men’s events, Felix Gifford did well to qualify for the final of the 200m butterfly, also finishing eighth in a time of 2:19.88.
Team manager Lorraine Gifford said she was thrilled with the performances of everyone in the team, noting that Callum MacGregor and Craig Nicolson had also recorded excellent personal bests in their races. She said: “It’s been a brilliant morning. Nearly everyone has done PBs, everyone’s swimming well. Amy’s thrilled to bits, it’s really good. [Andrea] is definitely looking at medals, hopefully it’ll be a gold but definitely looking at medals.”
Through in the adjacent sports hall, the isles’ table tennis players remain bottom of group B in the team event. They have continued to find the going extremely tough following Sunday’s 7-0 reversal against Guernsey, with 6-1 defeats to both Greenland and the Isle of Man leavened slightly by the good form of Scottish under-18 champion Lynda Flaws, who saw off Greenland’s Karliinannguaq Lundblad in a close five-set encounter before making short work of the Isle of Man’s Rebecca Bayley on Monday morning, winning 11-8, 11-7, 11-9.
They are on the table against Rhodes on Monday lunchtime before taking on Faroe in the afternoon, after which there are play-offs to determine placings before the various singles and doubles events begin on Thursday.
Over at the athletics track, runner Emma Leask came third in her 400m heat with a time of 1:01.08 to leave her in with a chance of qualifying for the final. Joshua Morrison also came third in the men’s 800m heat, his time of 1:58.24 only bettered by two runners in all of the heats.
Results from all the events are available in full at: http://www.alandresults2009.com.