Team Shetland’s excellent medal successes and wider achievements at the NatWest Island Games in Bermuda were recognised during a civic reception in Lerwick Town Hall last night.
SIC convener Malcolm Bell hosted the event, paying warm tribute to all who contributed in any way as Shetland finished ninth out of 24 islands in the overall medal table this summer.
Mr Bell vowed, even in this time of public spending constraints, that he personally would always advocate that the local authority should continue to provide funding to ensure Shetland can participate in future games
Gold medal-winning runner Emma Leask was presented with a certificate after breaking a games record, while Andrea Strachan’s record-breaking swimming performances were likewise given recognition in her absence.
Representatives of main team sponsor Malakoff Ltd were presented with a team photo to thank them for their assistance.
Mr Bell recalled how news that triathletes Lynsey Henderson and Peter Fenwick had won medals during the first day’s competition on 14th July had been “greeted throughout the islands with overwhelming admiration”.
“Being able to compete at island games level is no mean feat,” Mr Bell continued.
“We often see photos of the team in the sunshine at the closing ceremony in Bermuda [but people] don’t think about the dark mornings heading to the Clickimin… trips away to the mainland to take part in events, cycle runs up the Lang Kames in the teeth of a gale.”
He told competitors: “Your dedication to your events is an inspiration to everybody, and there’s no doubt you’re role models for our younger generations and true ambassadors for Shetland.”
It is fair to say that Team Shetland manager Andrew Inkster undertook something of a Herculean effort in Bermuda. In Bob Kerr’s absence, Andrew stepped into the breach and took on organisational duties while making it around nearly all the different sports – and still found time to supply this newspaper with updates and photographs.
Fittingly, he received the biggest round of applause of the night when triathlete Peter Fenwick, speaking on behalf of teammates, paid special tribute to the manager’s efforts.
Reflecting on the Bermuda games almost six weeks after its conclusion, Andrew said: “I still find it incredible that our competitors competed as well as they did given the conditions.
“We knew Bermuda was going to be a challenge both logistically and financially. We rose to the challenge, everybody contributed massively. To end up ninth out of 22 competing islands reinforces that we’re punching above our weight in the games, we’re well regarded in that and long may it continue.”
Andrew offered the team’s thanks to everyone who had helped, including the SIC for its financial support and the efforts of its staff.
He also thanked Malakoff for its sponsorship, saying Team Shetland “greatly appreciated the support of a well-respected local business, and we hope to continue that positive relationship in future games”.
Successful medal winners are likely to feature heavily among the nominations for this year’s Shetland Sports Awards, co-sponsored by The Shetland Times and Shetland Recreational Trust.
Editor Adam Civico said he wanted to add congratulations from all at the newspaper: “Everyone involved in the team deserves great credit for representing Shetland so well and making the whole community proud,” he said.
“Not only did the team compete so successfully but, despite the difficulties of communicating between Shetland and Bermuda, they were always prepared to answer questions from this newspaper, allowing us to keep our readers up to date.
“Andrew Inkster deserves a special mention for the way he became team photographer and helped keep the Shetland public in the picture.”