Medals aplenty: swimmers strike gold in Bermuda, and Joan grabs silver in squash
A glorious night in Bermuda saw Shetland swimmers Felix Gifford and Andrea Strachan both grab gold medals on Monday.
Felix also claimed a silver medal in the sun-soaked outdoor pool, a feat matched by Joan Smith on the squash courts to cap a triumphant evening for the men and women from the Old Rock.
The successes catapulted Team Shetland into eighth place in the overall medal table towards the end of day two at the 2013 NatWest Island Games.
Although Jersey’s Sarah Taylor eventually prevailed 3-0 in the women’s squash singles final, Joan certainly didn’t go down without a fight – taking the first set the full distance before losing out 12-10.
Nevertheless, her silver medal capped a memorable night for Shetland – taking the team’s overall tally to two golds, three silvers and a bronze medal with four days’ action still to come.
An ecstatic Joan, competing in her sixth island games, said afterwards that it had been her dream to win a medal in Bermuda. “I would have been satisfied with bronze, but silver is a bonus,” she added.
Felix swam to glory in the men’s 200m butterfly in a time of 2:02.19, marginally faster than his time in the morning heats and nearly half a second quicker than Menorca’s Josep Mercadal Mascaro.
Callum MacGregor was just outside the medals in fourth with a time of 2:07.84, a couple of seconds behind Guernsey’s bronze medal winner Ben Lowndes.
Felix’s silver came in the 200m individual medley event, where he missed out on a second gold by just 1.2 seconds. His time of 2:05.97 – nearly two seconds quicker than in qualifying – saw Felix clock in narrowly behind victorious Jersey swimmer Ian Black.
Team manager Lesley Hutchison said: “Felix got personal bests in both [the] heat and final of 200 fly, and as he has put it it’s been a pretty good first day at the pool. Master of understatement there.”
Meanwhile Andrea was able to replicate the 50m breaststroke gold medal success she enjoyed in the Isle of Wight two years ago.
She smashed her own island games record in the process with a time of 31.36 seconds – 0.96 of a second ahead of Laura Kinley from the Isle of Man.
Andrea had already beaten her previous games record of 32.57 seconds in the morning heats, and has now taken 1.21 seconds off it – demonstrating how all that hard work in the pool really does pay dividends.
“The race went well,” she said on Monday night. “I broke my record so very pleased with that. I’m looking forward to the next few days of racing.”
Andrea’s teammate Donnie Price was just one place away from claiming a spot on the podium.His time of 16:07.16 in the men’s 1500m freestyle saw him home some 35 seconds ahead of the fifth place finisher, but nearly eight seconds behind bronze medallist Oliver Nightingale of Guernsey.
Leslie said Donnie had been unlucky, having to contend with a false start “and being hit by the false start rope, plus the lap counter cards being wrong for a few laps”.
In the women’s 200m freestyle Amy Harper, who medalled in the 2011 Isle of Wight games, swam 2:06.61 – over two seconds faster than her qualifying time. That left her in fifth place.
“The race went well,” Amy said. “I broke my record from  so very pleased with that.”
There was a personal best of 1:06.20 for Jake Swanson in the men’s 100m breaststroke final. That gave him sixth place, just ahead of Donnie in 7th with a time of 1:07.96.
Amy and Andrea were joined by 14-year-old Anne Hutchison and 16-year-old Megan Petursdottir for the women’s 200m freestyle relay. They came fourth in 1:49.65 behind Channel Isles big guns Guernsey and Jersey, with host island Bermuda taking team gold.
The men’s team came seventh in their relay race.
Back on the squash court, Kerry Pottinger lost out in the bronze medal play-off. She was defeated 11-2, 11-6, 11-9 by Bermudan Laura Joanne Robinson, who Joan knocked out in the semi finals. But the form of both players bodes well for the doubles competition, which gets under way on Tuesday.