As we enter the final day of the 2019 NatWest International Island Games in Gibraltar, is it a very opportune time to reflect on what has been a very successful week of international sporting action on the Rock.
We caught up with Ynys Mon’s first gold-medal-winning athlete of this summer’s Games, Dominic Breen-Turner, to reflect on the exceptional experience he and the Ynys Mon team have had in Gibraltar.
“This is the first individual gold I’ve got, even though I’ve won quite a few golds in the team events and individual silvers, so it is quite a special one for me and also, as I’d argue that I’m beyond my peak laser sailing days it is really special to be able to come back and do this here.
“I’ve come out on my own this year, as we usually have a sailing team, so this year is unusual in that sense, but being able to come out here and know some of the guys from previous games or from school some time ago has been really nice.
“Even spotting an Ynys Mon t-shirt in town, it’s an immediate ‘how are you doing?’, ‘what sport are you doing?’, ‘can I come for a drink with you?’ … it is really nice having that familiarity in a really alien place.
“Saying that, it’s not even just the Ynys Mon t-shirts – it’s any t-shirt. Everyone who has been a part of this Games has been so friendly, there’s such a great vibe here, and everyone is so happy to help – they’re brilliant!”
A cursory look at the medal table will show that Ynys Mon are not amongst those islands challenging to ‘win’ the Games, as it were, but that is so far away from what the experiences of the NatWest International Island Games are all about.
Gibraltar has been bombarded with the best of the best athletes from the small islands of the world and welcomed them all with open arms, and whilst an impressive medal count of five is what Ynys Mon’s tally stands at at the time of writing, it doesn’t fully demonstrate the outstanding efforts that each and every one of the nearly 100 athletes and officials from Ynys Mon have put in whilst out in Gibraltar.
“We’ve had previous games where we’ve got more medals and things, but actually when you come out here and watch the sports you realise the person in fourth might miss out on a medal by the slightest of margins, and you never quite get those recognitions you deserve in terms of medals but when you’re out here watching what you see is second to none, it’s so inspiring.
“I’ve been speaking to the locals and they love the impact that the Games is having, their kids are starting to take up sports because of the level of international competition they’ve witnessed on their doorstep.
“I think that captures it perfectly actually – these games are about bringing that high level of international competition to a local venue in such a friendly way and really inspiring people.”
With Ynys Mon’s bid to host the NatWest International Island Games in 2025 receiving another boost this week as the island was announced as the International Island Games Executive Committee’s preferred hosts for the Games in six years’ time, Breen-Turner elaborated on why he thinks everything possible needs to be done to secure the Games on Ynys Mon in 2025.
“We need to push hard to host the Games in 2025. It is a brilliant opportunity and if we do it right it can be a massive, massive benefit to the island or even the wider region of north Wales where we are.
“As a competition it goes so much further than the sport itself. It pulls the locals in, the volunteers in for one reason or another – not just through helping out but contributing to the atmosphere of the week – and it contributes massively to the economy.
“We’re out here as a load of people who want to take over somewhere in the friendliest, most sporting nature of the word, and it is a fantastic experience that we should be pushing to bring to Ynys Mon in a few years’ time.”