From Neil Riddell in Åland
Wednesday was a slightly disappointing day for Shetland’s Island Games team in Åland, with one of the main medal hopes for the day, Andrea Strachan, missing out on one of her favoured events because of illness and the archers unable to repeat their heroics of 24 hours earlier.
In the morning Strachan and Petursdottir were both due to swim in the heats for the 100m breaststroke – the same event in which Strachan had taken silver in Rhodes two years ago – but sadly neither was able to take part due to a sickness bug which had earlier in the week afflicted Felix Gifford and also table tennis starlet Lynda Flaws.
There was better news in the pool for Gulberwick swimmer Amy Harper, who has had a good week and bettered her seventh place in the 200m freestyle final with an impressive time of 27.67 seconds to come sixth – only 0.43 seconds outside of the medal placings – in the 50m freestyle event. She said the outcome had been “a lot better” than she was anticipating: “I wasn’t expecting even to get in the final. I’ve been training quite hard recently.”
There was little time for the archers to celebrate their medal success on Tuesday as they had to be up at 6am to prepare for the individual head-to-head events. But they were unable to add to their trio of successes, with Sara Leith losing out 100-98 to the Isle of Man’s 13-year-old Aalin George in the quarter finals.
After receiving a bye in the first round, Billy Finnie saw off the challenge of Gotland’s Roger Sandelin by 111-104 before narrowly losing out to Menorca’s eventual silver medallist Sebastian Ametller Taltavull, who triumphed by 113-111. It means Team Shetland remains on one gold medal and three bronzes at the close of play on day four, with the overall tally likely to be the lowest in a number of years.
In the evening, long-jumper Sakchai Makao was sitting in 10th place going into the final after a jump of 6.37m on Tuesday and managed to improve his jump marginally to 6.39m, lifting him up to eighth. It left him in a good humour ahead of his favoured triple jump event.
Makao said: “I should’ve done better but I’m quite happy, I didn’t expect to come this far to the final. There’s no height in my jump and my landing has been a problem, both have been a problem this time but I’m happy, I had fun out there. It’s been brilliant, it’s been very hot.”
In the hammer final, Elaine Park ended in eighth place with a throw of 32.11m, some way below her personal best, two places ahead of youngster Sophie Kelman who threw 26.05m.
Earlier in the day, there was a very pleasing outcome for sprinter Lee Williamson, who ran 11.60 seconds to come third in his heat and qualify for Thursday morning’s 100m semi-final as one of the four fastest losers over the four heats. Team mate Gareth Robertson just missed out with a time of 11.88 seconds.
A delighted Williamson, running in his fourth games and having been hampered by injury in Rhodes two years ago, said he was just pleased to have made it through in an extremely fast event and looking forward to the semi-final.
His heat winner, the Cayman Islands’ Wallace Little, recorded a time of 11.04 seconds while Bermuda’s 15-year-old prodigy Jeneko Lottimore Place, who won silver in the 200m event, has been posting times quicker than the fastest man in the world did at the same stage of his career.
Williamson said: “After my 200m, I didn’t know what to expect, the standard is so high here. There’s a boy from Bermuda running faster than Usain Bolt did at that age. I was a bit nervous watching the other heat to see if I’d got through. I’ve been struggling with the second half of my race, I tense up, but I just let the other two guys go and concentrated on myself and I’m really happy.”
Martin Leyland, who has worked with the sprinter for a number of years, said he was “very chuffed” with Williamson’s run. “He ran the best race I’ve seen him run, not the best time, but the best race. When you come to the Island Games, in the sprints it’s all about getting through. He can take confidence from that and go on to the semi, see what can happen.
“Lee is often a very good starter, but at about 50 or 60m when the pressure comes on, tension comes into his face and he loses several 10ths of a second. Today, he was relaxed and he stayed relaxed to the line so I was really pleased.”
Shetland’s sole golfer Jordan Leask found himself in the middle of the pack after the second round at Åland’s Castle Course on Wednesday afternoon. A slightly disappointing back nine left him 18 over par for the tournament with a round of 84, after he had shot 77 at the King’s Course in the opening day’s play on Tuesday and meant he was in 36th place with two rounds remaining.
Meanwhile, in among the trees at the impressive Bredno shooting range to the south east of Mariehamn, Christopher Williamson scored 70 to come in 11th place, just ahead of Peter Ratter who shot 66 to finish 15th in the sporting individual event.
On Thursday, Shetland’s footballers will be hoping to salvage a bit of pride from what has been a disappointing tournament when they take on Saaremaa in the 13th-14th place play-off match at 5pm BST.