Six medals for Team Shetland in island games opener

Team Shetland are off to a flyer after an impressive medal haul on day one of the NatWest Island Games.

The team has six medals so far with Bobby Bristow, Leon Johnson and Matthew Cox winning a team silver medal in the half marathon this morning.

In stifling heat Bristow finished in sixth place with a time 74.44. Johnson came ninth with 76.23 and Cox 29th with 85.57.

In the cycling Christine McLean and Caroline Simpson won a team silver in the time trial. McLean also has a bronze in the individual time trial race.

McLean clocked a time of 57.12 over the 22-mile route. Simpson completed the course in 1.01 and was “gobsmacked” to have won a silver medal.

“I was just hoping to get a decent time but I was rendered speechless. I was just not expecting it at all.

“You don’t know what you’re up against…all these Channel Islands lasses are so good.”

Simpson said it was the most technical time trial she has ever done.

There were some “skippy downhills, sharp bends and tight corners,” she said.

“There were some nice long stretches as well.”

On the waterfront hundreds of supporters turned out for the men and women’s triathlon, with team Shetland having 10 athletes in the race this year.

For newcomers Sanna Aitken and Louise Parr, the event was a special one.

Sanna Aitken makes a dash to the bike. Photo: Kevin Jones.
Sanna Aitken makes a dash to the bike. Photo: Kevin Jones.

It was their first island games and they did not leave empty handed; bagging a bronze in the women’s team medals.

Lynsey Henderson finished in eighth place in 2.28, followed by Louise Parr in ninth position with 2.29.

Sanna finished in 18th place in 2.40.

Wendy Hatrick came in 23rd with 2.51, followed by Frances Hutchison in 2.53, who was met with a huge roar from the crowd.

The girls said it was proud and emotional moment to see the Shetland flag flying high at the medal ceremony.

The sea was a welcoming 19 degrees but athletes had to battle with choppy waters and a strong headwind on the bike.

“Coming out of the water I couldn’t even run up the steps,” said Sanna.

“I had to just crawl up those steps to get my wetsuit off because I was so tired after the swim.”

The athletes hailed the support from the onlookers who pushed them on to the finish line.

And the boost in numbers meant they could cheer each other on as they did laps of the course.

Though they were unaware at first that they had won a medal.

“That was such a surprise,” said Parr.

“We didn’t have a clue,” added Henderson.

In the mammoth race athletes finished with bloody feet, muscle cramps and sheer exhaustion.

Andrew Aitken was the first Shetland man to cross the line in 31st place with a time of 2.14.

Sixty-three men took part in the competition.

“The water temperature is obviously a lot higher than it is back home which is good.”

“The running start, it was quite congested there were two or three rows of folk on the start line which made it busy as soon as we got in the water.”

Waves were coming into his face, he said and there was a group of four breaking away for the second part of the swim.

Andy said the transition onto the bike was ok though there were some technical parts to the cycling race.

And getting off the bike he had chest pains before starting the run.

“As soon as I got off the bike my chest seized up, it was like stitchy pain up the side of my chest and breathing was so painful.”

Five athletes competed in Bermuda and Andy was happy to see the figure double this time out.

“The sport is doing well back home. There’s a lot of interest and a lot of the crowd here have been to see it as well and with the supporters out in force too, it’s been good.”

He was followed by Davie Williamson in 43rd place with 2.20 and Bonar Barkley in 47th with 2.25.

John William Simpson finished 49th with 2.26 and Laurence Little came 58th with 2.41.

Simpson was in high spirits after the race but swimming against the seaweed proved hard work.

“There were these lumps of lettuce across your face,” he laughed.

Though he was happy with the bike leg, and the downhill parts.

“I got my Evil Knievel face for that.”

There was more good news to share back at the team hotel as Maurice Williamson returned with a bronze medal in the hammer throw, beating the Shetland record too, with 47.96 metres.

“First and second was pretty much gone,” he said, with Commonwealth athlete Andrew Frost from the Isle of Wight topping the table with 68.58.

He was followed by Genro Pass of Saaremaa, Estonia with 57.94.

“I thought I was fourth after the event but they shouted out third place wrong.

“I was over the moon with that. It was a huge surprise, I didn’t really want to believe it until they called it out and I was going up on to the podium.”

There was also good news in the shooting as Bryan Sutherland and Magnus Laurenson bagged a bronze medal in the Olympic skeet team event.

Athletes are now resting up ready for day two tomorrow.



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