From Neil Riddell in Åland
Medal number seven for Team Shetland in this year’s Island Games arrived in the pool on Thursday evening thanks to a sterling swim from young Amy Harper in the 100m freestyle.
Her time of 59.40 seconds was more than enough to secure a bronze medal, as she finished over a second ahead of fourth placed Emma Glendening of Jersey. Faroese swimmer Shaila millum Garoarnar set a new games record as she won the gold medal in the same race.
It was a first ever games medal for Harper, 17, who also came fifth in the 50m backstroke during the same session, and speaking at the end of what has been an excellent week of competition for the Gulberwick girl, she said that she was “very proud” that all her hard training in recent months had paid off.
“I was amazed when I looked up at the board,” said the ecstatic swimmer. “I also feel proud to contribute to the Shetland team’s medal tally.”
Andrea Strachan, back in the pool after missing a good medal opportunity on Wednesday due to illness, came sixth in the 100m individual medley. The female quartet managed seventh place in the 4x100m medley, the boys came fifth in the 4x100m freestyle relay and the whole team were also fifth in the 8x50m mixed freestyle relay.
Over in the track and field, Eilidh Peterson jumped 10.32m to finish sixth in the women’s triple jump while earlier in the day, sprinter Lee Williamson’s time of 11.52 seconds was not enough to earn him a place in the 100m final.
Having recovered from the same bug that afflicted the swimmers, table tennis starlet Lynda Flaws was initially very impressive as she cruised through group five and dropped only one set on the way to beating Lii Vahter of Saaremaa, Gotland’s Martina Eskedahl and Danielle Ives of Alderney in the singles event.
But she then came a cropper in the quarter-final, losing 3-1 to Eveline Carlsson, though every set was fairly tight as she went down 9-11, 11-13, 11-9, 7-11. She will still be hoping for success in the mixed doubles, where she and Daniel Mainland will be back on the table on Friday.
Meanwhile, Shetland’s footballers finally gave themselves something to smile about with a last-gasp 3-2 victory over Saaremaa at Hammarland to finish 13th in the tournament. A hat-trick from Unst’s impressive Erik Thomson, including two goals in the closing three minutes, was enough for the players to at least finish the week on a high.
In a much-improved performance on the 3-1 reversal against Greenland, Thomson was outstanding from start to finish, opening the scoring when he met Duncan Bray’s left-wing cross perfectly with a diving header into the corner.
Shetland dominated the game for the most part but looked as if they had thrown it away once more when first Urmas Rajaver caught Erik Peterson by surprise when he side-footed high into the net from an improbably wide angle two minutes before the break, then Sander Viira scored with a slightly fortuitous shot which looped over the helpless Peterson after a sharp turn from Martti Pukk.
The men in blue played with a great deal more solidity and urgency than they had 48 hours earlier, with Karl Williamson moving back to centre half to shore up an unusually porous back line and a determined-looking James Johnston much more prominent throughout, delivering by far his most effective 90 minutes of the week.
Saaremaa were a neat passing side and they looked to be on the way to piling more misery on John Jamieson’s men when striker Ross MacDougal headed over a glorious opportunity following a Beckham-esque delivery from Leighton Flaws on the right as the game moved into its last quarter.
But young Delting forward Fraser Hall was sent on with seven minutes remaining for his first action in a Shetland shirt and he played a crucial cameo role. First he got away in the right channel and brought a save out of goalkeeper Roland Kutt, who palmed the ball out to Ross Moncrieff who stabbed back for Thomson to smash home the equaliser with just two minutes remaining.
Then, after Flaws had headed over with a great chance, determined work from Hall saw him wriggle free on the left and his neatly dinked cross to the back post was gleefully headed in by Thomson to complete a hat trick in what was his first full start for Shetland.
Jamieson said after the final whistle that he was pleased the competition had ended on a high note, adding he was relieved to have finally recorded his first victory as manager. “It’s been a long time coming,” he said.
Shetland line-up: Erik Peterson; Gary Jamieson, Ross Moncrieff, Karl Williamson, Merv Jamieson; Leighton Flaws, Duncan Bray (Peter Peterson 78), Alan Duncan, James Johnston; Ross MacDougal (Fraser Hall 83), Erik Thomson.
Subs not used: Craig Dinwoodie, Lewis Kay, Josie Kay, Craig Gerty, Duncan Anderson.