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The future looks positive for young athletes in North Wales

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30/07/2019 00:00, In Blog / Track & Field /

“The Island Games was the most incredible experience. The whole experience was so amazing and the atmosphere was so memorable, it was nice to mix with other athletes from different Islands. Taking part in the Island Games I never expected to win a medal, as long as I got a pb that’s all I wanted but taking home a Silver medal in the 3000m Steeplechase was the most amazing feeling. The experience has made me more aware of the ability I have and it has made me more motivated. I’m really looking forward to the next Island Games”. – Ffion Rees Madi Jones, athlete

A team of 20 athletes from Ynys Mon competed in one of the most competitive Island Games yet to be held since the games started back in 1985. Speaking about the games Team Manager, Barry Edwards, said, “At the stunning island of Gibraltar 2019, with a mix of youth and experience in this year’s squad it was always going to be a successful and enjoyable games. The average age of the team was just 17 and with 4 medals, 11 pb's and 6 all-time records our athletes have done everyone proud. With success at Gibraltar some of our athletes have since been selected for national duties, Zack, Cameron, Patrick and Ffion will be competing in the national vest of Wales at yet another International event.”

“Being at the Gibraltar 2019 games has been a great experience for me, being able to meet different athletes from other islands and be a part of the whole atmosphere. Gaining a bronze medal in the process is a great achievement for me, being part of a competitive field will help and encourage me for my future races” – Ffion Roberts, athlete

The team was supported by its new partnership with Bangor University’s Sports Science team. Barry said, “The aims and objectives for the athletics squad have been met for 2019 and long-term goals for 2021, 2023 and 2025 have already been set. The University programme was a significant factor in getting our athletes mentally prepared and physically fit and with medals, pb’s and all-time records being achieved it is clear what impact Clare and the university have had on our success at the 2019 games.”

“It was an honour to be selected for the squad for shotput and discus for Ynys Mon. Everything about the games is professional and organised to a very high standard. They have made my experience unforgettable and created superb memories for life.  Medalling was unexpected and, by far, the highest achievement I have achieved to date. Being on the podium, holding the Welsh flag and receiving my medal gave me a proud feeling that will remain with me forever. Thank you to all the people that make the island games happen and allow such opportunities for athletes to compete in.” Patrick Harris, athlete

The young talent was showcased on the stage at the “world class” athletics facilities in Gibraltar. Talking about the track facilities Barry said, “As well as having the new athletics track at Lathbury there was also the old athletics track which we used for training purposes on the first couple of days. Although a bit windy at the new facility it was great for our athletes to compete at the newly built track. Ready for our 2025 Games the reality of how much work is required at Treborth to get the athletics facility up to standard hit home but if Gibraltar can have two tracks in operation, I’m sure we can create a stunning athletics centre of excellence at Treborth.”

“Competing in the Island Games has been an incredible experience. Being in the athletes village, mixing with athletes from all across the world who compete in so many different sports has been very memorable. The atmosphere has been really friendly, and the support has been inspiring. For me, getting a PB in my race was all I ever really wanted coming into the games and I’m so happy to have achieved it as well as an all-time Ynys Mon record in the 4x400m relay. I’m looking forward to the next games already.” – Catrin Powell Jones, athlete

The success of the games has allowed for more investment into the athletics talent in North Wales. Barry, speaking on the future of team Ynys Mon, said: “Evaluating and tracking the athletics talent coming through on Ynys Mon will see our Ynys Mon Island Games Athletics Academy being set up which we will invest in up and coming talent during 2019-2020 and support their journeys in getting to their first games.” This will include access to leisure facilities, sports nutrition, sports psychology and kit for each of the athletes who are selected for the academy programme. Barry continued, £We will be working closely with schools on the talent identification process as well as linking with RAF Valley, running clubs and the wider community to attract older and more experienced athletes.”  

“Competing at my 3rd Island Games and the games at Gibraltar 2019 were amazing. With a huge step in standards across the events I am delighted with my bronze medal and the whole experience has motivated and inspired me to come back in 2021 to aim for even more medals and pb’s.” – Iolo Hughs, athlete

The Island Games has highlighted the athletics talent within North Wales and opened up more support and opportunities for athletes to build and develop their athletics skills and abilities. Team Manager, Barry Edwards, is feeling very positive about the future of team Ynys Mon, It was an absolute pleasure to lead a team of 20 athletes at the stunning Gibraltar 2019 Nat West Island Games. The effort and performances from every single athlete was rewarding to see and the future looks really bright for our Ynys Mon team. Everything from team spirit, attitudes, behaviour, discipline and all other aspects were outstanding and the athletes did themselves, family and island very proud.”

Good luck for the next Island Games, Team Ynys Mon!