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Video and Gallery: NatWest Island Games final round-up

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JEP sports editor Ron Felton celebrates a week that encapsulated Island pride – and hopes that our politicians take note...

HOW do you follow that?

Ron Felton

After six simply brilliant days of competition, with thousands of Islanders of all ages enthused and energised by sport in the raw, the departure of 23 island teams from Jersey 2015 today and tomorrow will at least present the opportunity for Jersey to catch its breath. After waving them all a genuine fond farewell, of course.

They have been made to feel so welcome throughout that doubtless many will return, and that really is a cause for Island pride – something that I and many others marked out as being the hosts' real yardstick of success, not just the medal table (though we didn't do too badly there either).

I for one am already looking forward the next instalment of the NatWest Island Games in Gotland in two years' time, confident that that Swedish island will also deliver on their slogan of A Memory For Life.

Building memories – that's a big thing in life, and our Island can be immensely proud that when our version of the Friendly Games gave us a chance to shine, we, as a community, took it with both hands. We shone.

For that there are many people to thank, from driving forces like Phil Austin and Games director Steve Bailey, through to the dedicated men and women at the heart of the 14 sports showcased, all of whom put up their hands to volunteer for hundreds of hours of unsung, unpaid work just to make sure that their sport put on a good show.

Many more Islanders oiled the wheels of this massive event, putting their unique talents at the disposal of the Island; businesses who supported the endeavour with a mixture of cash and expertise; and, of course the Waitrose Games Makers, whose purple uniform became synonymous with the day-to-day activities.

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All those and many more just took time out to cheer, all the time underlining what a positive force sport can be in bringing people together.

States Members might be a tad aggrieved that they have not been mentioned so far, and so it is only right to acknowledge that the Games simply could not have taken place without their backing.

But it's to our politicians that the opening line of this comment is really addressed. How DO we follow that?

None of our States Members can fail to have been impressed with the feelgood factor engendered by seeing our fit young (and not so young) things compete and give the next generation something to aspire to.

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And yet rumours persist that funding for sport could be hit, and hit hard, at grassroots level. Many fear the worst and feel that our governing body, and particularly those with their hands on the purse-strings, have always seriously undervalued the health and social benefits that can be derived from sport.

Perhaps this past week may give them cause to reassess their stance.

The politician with responsibility for sport, St Brelade Constable Steve Pallett, clearly needs no lessons as to the value of activity, as he is no stranger to pulling on boots, trainers and swimming shorts. But he will need support . . . so the Jersey public need to let their feelings be known.

How DO we follow that?

FOOTBALL

JERSEY'S women's footballers will be in a daze tonight, for more reasons than one, after they beat the mighty Aland to win gold at Springfield this morning.

And it was the belief and togetherness of the players that got them thought for their first ever gold medal and success against the winners three times in their last three tournaments.

Eve Watson netted the all-important goal six minutes before half time and it resulted in producing a huge roar followed by a chorus of singing from the near-1,500 spectators.

Jersey manager Simon Petulla said: 'This is a brilliant day for women's football and the culmination of a lot of hard work put in by everyone over six months.

'These girls have a never-say-die attitude – they refuse to be beaten.

'It was a tough game, there wasn't much in it and I was calm throughout because Aland never really looked like scoring.

'They had a little bit of pressure towards the end but they did not carve out any decent chances so we were able to see it through.

'We could have been more than one goal ahead at the break as well and we had chances after as well.

'We worked on the team's shape and it paid off because we looked so solid.

'I don't think Jersey has every beaten Aland before which shows how far we have come.

'Hopefully this result will get more people into women's football; we'll just have to wait and see.'

Match-winner Eve Watson said: 'It's an amazing feeling to think I've scored the winning goal in the final; I'm so happy for everyone because we've all worked so hard for this.

'We went out and gave it our all, fair play to Aland they are a good side and they gave us a good game.

'I've never experienced anything like this before; this is our time now and we're all going to enjoy it tonight.'

Jody Botterill, who played professionally in Aland for a season after being spotted in the Island Games in the Isle of Wight in 2009, said: 'It was nice to get a win against Aland and a few of my former team-mates; I was really happy when I found out we were playing them and hopefully I'll get a chance to catch up with a few of them before they return home.

'Winning gold is fantastic; I said to former manager Tony Hoyland after the Isle of Wight I wanted gold in Jersey and I'm delighted we've won it.

'I've got to thank our management team as well; their preparation for us has been unbelievable and they deserve praise as well.'

Marta Ascenção said: 'That was amazing; my first Island Games and a gold medal. I'm so proud to play for Jersey; I'm really, really happy. We put so much into today because we wanted to win and we did.'

Aland manager Per Lofkvist said: 'We did out best; we knew it would be a hard game and a difficult game.

'I think we were the better team in both halves but to have a chance of winning a game you have to score and we did not.

'It hurts to lose but I don't blame anyone we tried our best and we've had a fantastic week so thank you Jersey!'

Jersey opened well with Aland's goalkeeper Ellen Ahlstrom making a great interception to deny the advancing Watson.

Aland replied with Elin Lindstrom lifting the ball over Jersey goalkeeper Catherine Overbury but her effort went wide.

Overbury then saved well from Melanie Karring as Aland attacked in numbers and then Ascenção went close when she powered a header just over Aland's crossbar.

Jersey lost right-back Kelly Hughes to injury after 26 minutes and replacement Lauren Quémard went on to have a fine game.

Aland's support play to their forwards was impressive and pushing players forward it forced Jersey to defend in numbers, but that was to their advantage as they are a good team on the counter attack due to the pace of captain Jody Botterill and Catarina Andrade, the latter who was immense and her excellent running at defenders gave Aland lots of problems.

Jersey's defenders cleared the ball quickly at every opportunity and it was following a foul on Andrade, after a great run, that Jersey scored what turned out to be the game's only goal.

Botterill flighted the resultant free kick into the heart of the six-yard area and Watson rose unmarked to nod the ball into the goal to send the crowd wild.

Aland then missed a sitter when the unmarked Karring headed over from close in.

Andrade, a former Portugal U21 player, went close twice shortly after the resumption and as Jersey kept Aland at bay really well, they then missed a good chance to double their lead when Watson headed wide.

Aland missed their best chance of the game, with their first shot in the second half in the 76th minute, when two forwards ran into each other with only Overbury to beat.

Jersey dug in really well in the closing ten minutes when several half-chances fell to Aland and when the final which was sounded it signalled the start of some wild Jersey celebrations.

Jersey: Catherine Overbury; Kelly Hughes, Candice Parsons, Michelle Bichard, Sophie Botterill; Jodie Botterill, Marta Ascenção, Libby Barnett, Eve Watson, Jess Vieira; Catarina Andrade. Subs used: Lauren Quémard and Fiona Mackinnon.

Aland: Ellen Ahlstrom, Elin Lindstrom, Maja Lindqvist, Michaela Holmborg, Maryette Karring, Lina Holm, Josefine Danielsson, Melanie Karring, Sofia Lindstrom, Carin Ekstrom, Moa Holmstrom. Subs used: Josefine Flojt, Hanna Karlsson, Fanny Masabacka.

GOLF

JERSEY'S ladies dominated this week's NatWest Island Games golf tournament as they cruised to a team gold medal yesterday – backed up by individual silver and bronze.

The home side led the competition from day one with solid scoring all week, in particular from Flora Keites and Jenny Deeley, who finished second and third respectively on the individual leaderboard.

They went into yesterday's final round at La Moye with a 25-point lead over the second-placed Isle of Man team and rounds of 77, 81 and 85 from Keites, Deeley and Hannah Scriven meant Team Jersey extended their lead as they finished on a total score of 953.

The Isle of Man came a distant second with 981 and Guernsey finished third with 995, although Sarnian and CI number one Aimée Ponte claimed the individual gold after shooting yesterday's best score of 74.

The star of the show for Jersey was 15-year-old Games rookie Keites, whose three-over-par final round was capped off with a delightful chip in from off the 18th green that scored a birdie – to the delight of onlooking spectators outside the clubhouse.

Describing that moment, Keites said: 'When the final shot went in it was overwhelming – it was a home Games and I had all the support behind me, with the Jersey flags up. It was just amazing.'

Keites also knocked in birdies on the third, sixth, ninth and 14th holes as she finished the week with a final total 312, following earlier rounds of 76, 79 and 80.

The Jersey number one ended up just nine shots behind Ponte and said that playing against the 19-year-old Sarnian has been a good opportunity to measure her ability and that she hopes to match her standard in years to come.

Keites looked cool and assured representing the Island throughout the competition and looks a great prospect, with her team manager describing her as 'an old head on young shoulders'.

At just 15 years old, she wasn't even born the last time the Island Games were held in Jersey in 1997, but one person who has fond memories of that Games is her team-mate Jenny Deeley, who won individual and team gold that year.

Returning to the Games after an 18-year break, Deeley picked up the individual bronze medal, closing out a consistent week with an 81 yesterday, following previous scores of 77, 80 and 76.

The 53-year-old came into the final day in the silver medal position, however, and felt her final day putting cost her second place.

'I played really well tee-to-green but I struggled on the greens, but I really enjoyed it today and all credit to Flora, she played so well,' she said.

Jersey's third-placed Hannah Scriven finished ninth and the popular 18-year-old was followed around the course for her entire final round by a group of friends cheering her on.

She shot 85 on the final day, following scores of 79, 80 and 84 earlier in the week, and said that the support of her friends really helped.

The fourth member of the team, Frances Shaw, finished 14th and while not matching her teammates' scoring, will take away fond memories from the Games as she hit an outstanding eagle-two on the second day at La Moye, helping her to shoot 79 on her home course – her best score of the week.

Team manager Nicki Langly-Smith said: 'The girls played really steadily in difficult conditions and the mixture of youth and experience really worked.

'The older players helped out the young ones, which is what we wanted. I'm absolutely delighted with them.'

The tournament was played over four days, with two rounds at the Royal Jersey Gold Club and the other two at La Moye.

NEWS that his brother Billy had just won the tennis gold gave the Isle of Man's Tom Harris a boost to push on and win the individual gold medal at Royal Jersey late yesterday afternoon.

Harris carded a superb four-under-par 66 to win by two strokes from home player Gavin O'Neill, the champion in Bermuda two years ago who also registered an under-par round of 69.

O'Neill, watched by a gallery of over 100, chipped in from 40 feet for a birdie two at the par-3 16th to trail Harris by one shot.

There was expectancy that the match might go to play-off holes but Harris birdied 17 to move two ahead again, a lead he maintained.

Guernsey's Bobby Eggo, the current Channel Islands champion, won bronze after winning a play-off against fellow Sarnian Danny Blondel.

Jersey had to settle for fourth position in the team event where the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Bermuda took the leading three positions respectively.

'My putting today was better than the rest of the week today and I've probably missed out because I wasn't as solid as I should have been in a couple of the rounds.

'I was disappointed to have bogeys at eleven and 12; they were not very good holes for me today.

'It was a difficult day, the wind was strong and you can't afford to go in the rough around here because that will hurt you.

'I'm pleased with the way I've played today and I finished well and it's a shame that I've not been able to win the gold again and we're also disappointed to have missed out on a team medal.

O'Neill returned a total of 282 for his four rounds and Sam Crenan 299 and Jeremy Phillips 302, the latter pair for 11th and 15th positions overall.

Champion Harris, who won the Isle of Man championship two weeks ago, said: 'I was told my brother Billy has won the tennis gold when I was on the sixth hole and it gave a bit more incentive to push on.

'I was really happy with my round; I was one under on the front nine despite a bogey at seven so it was going well.

'I managed 20 and 12-foot putts for birdies at eleven and 12 and after than I held my game together with a further 20-foot birdie at 17.

'I'm called the ''knife'' because I use the one-iron a lot; no woods were used at all today because of the conditions and I hit the ball low with a lot of punch shots.'

The 21-year-old, who attends the University of Maryland on the edge of Washington DC, has been in good form of late having won the Isle of Man championship title just two weeks ago.

Team scores: Isle of Man 862; Guernsey 872; Bermuda 878; Jersey 882; Isle of Wight 894.

TABLE TENNIS

TEAM JERSEY may have gone 30 years without a NatWest Island Games table tennis singles gold, but it surely won't be much longer before that fact changes.

At just 15 years of age, Jordan Wykes came agonisingly close to making history for Jersey at the Geoff Reed Centre yesterday in the finale of the men's singles competition, but top spot proved elusive against number one seed – and reigning champion – Nisse Lundberg of Gotland. He instead had to settle for a second silver of the day after falling just short in the men's doubles final with Josh Band.

He has time on his side though (and an impending growth-spurt), and he is surely already looking forward to Gotland 2017.

Whatever team manager Paul Marshall said during the break appeared to paid dividends for a short while as Wykes closed out the third 11-7, but he was unable to make further inroads.

There was a mini revival in the fourth as the doubles runner-up recovered from 7-1 in arrears to 9-8, but that was as good as it got, and the Swede, who benefitted from a superior reach on a number of occasions throughout, moved 3-1 up.

At 6-0 down in the fifth the scoreboard looked nothing other than ominous for Wykes, and although he did again fight back (to 8-5), Lundberg's ability to find the table, from any position, proved the difference. Title retained by the 2011 champion (table tennis was not staged in Bermuda), and a more than credible silver for young Mr Wykes.

'I wasn't expecting to get two silvers,' said Wykes. 'I wasn't expecting to get a medal at all if I'm honest. I managed to get a seeding of four and it just got better from there.

'Hopefully I'll shoot up a little bit more and win gold next time.'

Jersey coach Craig Gascoyne added: 'Jordan has done amazingly well getting to the final, it is no mean feat at all for a 15-year-old in his first Island Games.

'The week has definitely been a success, the whole team have done fantastically well. They all got through the group stages and have not given me a minute, it has been very busy. Two silvers and a bronze is amazing.'

TENNIS

TENNIS professional Scott Clayton bounced back from the disappointment of defeat in the final of the singles tournament to retain his NatWest Island Games men's doubles crown in emphatic fashion alongside James Connelly.

Following a narrow championship tie breaker defeat to defending champion Billy Harris yesterday at the Caesarean Club, Clayton joined forces with Connelly to thrash Guernsey's Dom McLuskey and Patrick Ogier 6-1, 6-2 in the doubles showdown.

While it wasn't the final day Clayton was hoping for, Jersey's number one seed was pleased with his response following the initial disappointment.

'In the end it probably got me fired up to play even better so it might have been a bad thing for the Guernsey guys that I lost because I played a good match.'

In front of a busy clubhouse, Clayton broke Harris twice in the first set, the second time, crucially, to move 6-5 ahead in the singles final. But on both occasions, Jersey's number one seed failed to press home his advantage, immediately conceding his next service game.

Having edged a close tie-break 7-5, the 20-year-old Jerseyman was broken twice at the start of the second set and, although he won Harris' first service game, it was position from which he never recovered. The Manxman closed out the second set 6-4 before coming from 8-6 behind to win the decisive championship tie breaker, 10-8.

Speaking directly after his win, Harris said: 'He was number one seed so I was kind of the underdog but I just played my game and played really well today.

'I knew he was playing really well but I had to forget about Monday's match. I changed a few things today, hit my forehand a lot better, I was mentally stronger and overall it was a better performance.'

Harris (20) twice beat Clayton in Bermuda two years ago and, although the Jerseyman exacted some revenge on his opponent on Monday, he was frustrated with his performance levels yesterday.

'The singles didn't go my way because I didn't perform to the level I had hoped,' he added.

'For some reason today my game wasn't there – and yesterday really – but that happens in sport sometimes and you have just got to accept it, move on and I felt I did that well with the doubles.

'I don't think the level was particularly good from either of us really ... I'm sure Bill would agree but he came through it and I think he probably deserved to win in the end.'

Clayton and Connelly made no mistake in the doubles showdown, thrashing McLuskey and Ogier.

Speaking after that win, Connelly (24) said: 'Coming back from Australia I was anxious to make it worthwhile but every time I play with Scott it is worthwhile – we have good chemistry, good teamwork and this week we just carried on from Bermuda really.

'It makes it a sweet win because they are quality opponents. We haven't actually played those two together before but it's a pretty friendly environment. Obviously it is always going to be competitive between the two islands but they are two good players and we're happy to get the win.'

Meanwhile, Jersey's Clare Clarke and Rebecca Edwards had to settle for women's doubles silver, after being beaten by Isle of Man's number one seeds Karen Faragher and Laura Feely. The Jersey duo appeared comfortable in winning the first set 7-5 but the Manx women impressed in the second set, winning 6-2. With the momentum behind them, it was Faragher and Feely – who had beaten Jersey's Forrest and Hurst in the semi-finals – who secured gold with a 10-5 success in the decisive championship tie-breaker.

Reflecting on a memorable week at the Caesarean Club, in which the hosts have secured their greatest ever medal return, Jersey team manager Matt Harris says he couldn't have asked for any more from his players.

'We've won a total of nine medals,' he said.

'I would have taken that at the beginning of the week. We gave them the goal of seven medals ... that's the best we've won in one Games before, in 1997 in Jersey. We've got nine this time so I can't really ask for more. Hey, maybe we could have won a few more golds but it is brilliant; they've all done so well.'

ATHLETICS

THEY may have fallen just short of claiming gold on every day of the 2015 NatWest Island Games, but six silvers for Team Jersey's athletics team on Day Six isn't a poor return.

All four of the hosts' relay squads were runners-up at FB Fields yesterday morning as the track and field schedule drew to a close with the 4x100 metres and 4x400m, while there were also second-place finishes for triple jumper Ross Jeffs and reigning 1,500m champion Elliott Dorey.

Although silver may have not been what the men's 4x100m quartet of Jeffs, Sam Dawkins, Dami Williams and Bill Porter were after – their time of 42.72 sec left them a quarter-of-a-second short of Guernsey – there were hugs and smiles for the Caesarean ladies after Claire Lidster, Kat Lindsay, Helen Butler-Day and Bube Popo followed Shetland home.

'This is my fourth relay medal, but this may be the best because before, we were expected to win something,' said Butler-Day. 'This year we had strong competition and young Bube on the last leg, and I'm really proud of her because she held on brilliantly.'

Jersey's 4x400 runners followed suit soon after with two silvers of their own – one after losing an appeal against winners Isle of Man for an alleged change-over infringement – but there was a hint of sorrow mixed in with the elation, with Gemma Dawkins settling for fourth in the women's 800m (behind Isle of Man's middle-distance double gold medallist Rachael Franklin) and Jeffs being denied gold by just three centimetres by lone Rhodes athlete Savvas Diakonikolas on the penultimate jump of the competition – 14.42m versus 14.39m.

Ahead of triathlon gold medallist Dan Halksworth's eighth-place finish in the 10,000m (two laps down on Bermudan winner Chris Estwanik, who won half-marathon gold on Sunday), there was also a feeling of 'what if?' for Dorey as he missed the chance to make it two in a row.

However, following his recent return from injury, there was a silver lining as he followed Ynys Mon's Iolo Hughes to the line in 3 min 55.35 sec, and teenager Sam Maher excelled to take fourth with a personal best time of 3.58.63. 'It has been very up and down for me today,' said Dawkins after bringing the baton home in the women's 4x400m., 'but I was never going to let the team down and I channelled the disappointment of fourth in the 800m into the relay, and we did so well. It's really nice to finish on a high

– now we can all celebrate.'

Second place may merely be seen as 'best of the rest' for some, but a medal at a home Games is something special, regardless of the colour.

CYCLING

JERSEY'S Kim Ashton eventually received her gold medal yesterday for her 'clear' victory in Thursday's town criterium cycling event after being told that the team had incurred a time penalty.

Ashton had dominated the race, but after the final competitors had crossed the line, the Jersey team were told that they had incurred a penalty for allegedly being late to the start line.

An appeal was lodged and was successful, meaning that Ashton was awarded gold and team-mate Clare Treharne picked up the bronze.

The decision to overturn the time penalty also meant that Jersey's women won team gold in the women's race.

The decision to award a penalty sanction was met with near total confusion at the finish line, with the Jersey competitors having received no warning prior to the race that they were to be penalised.

Andy Hamon, Jersey cycling team manager, said: 'I made an appeal yesterday which was thankfully successful which means that our girls got the medals that they deserved.

'The officials had tried to give the girls a one-lap penalty and then decided that they shouldn't have done. It was all a bit of a mess.

'The appeal had the full backing of all the other teams and managers and the girls have their medals now.'

The officials for the race were provided by the British Cycling Association and Hamon has said that the information will be fed back to the organisation.

BADMINTON

IN front of a sizeable and noisy crowd, Mark Constable delivered his and Jersey's second badminton gold of the NatWest Island Games.

The New Gilson Hall, venue for the badminton, was packed throughout the week and yesterday Jersey's player-coach Constable put on a show for the crowd that had come to see him claim the men's singles title.

Having already won the bronze medal earlier in the day in the men's doubles against the Faroe Islands pair of Aksel Poulsen and Niclas Eysturoy - the latter of which was Constable's opponent in the singles final - the Jersey top seed went even better as he claimed a 21-9, 21-12 victory for the gold.

It was not such good news for Kerry Coombs-Goodfellow, who appeared to be nursing an injury, as she narrowly missed out on a podium place after losing the bronze medal play-off to Guernsey's Chloe Le Tissier.

After an enthralling team gold deep into Monday night in what was arguably one of the moments of the week, Jersey's badminton team were confident of adding to their medal tally and in the 38-year-old Constable they had a man in top form.

He breezed into an early 9-2 advantage against Eysturoy in the first game and it was to be a lead he never relinquished, winning the opening game 21-9.

Eysturoy fought hard to gain a foothold in the match but had no answer for the combination of delicate drop shots and aggressive power of Constable, who took the second match 21-12 and the gold medal in the process.

Speaking after his victory, the former England Commonwealth Games gold medallist said: 'I had put a bit of extra pressure on myself as it was at home and I had my friends and family here so I perhaps made it a bit more difficult for myself.

'The whole week for Jersey badminton has been just amazing. That team gold was incredible, it had everything and the crowd really helped us. There were a lot of children there that night so hopefully it will inspire a few kids to start playing.'

Constable, who defeated the Faroe Islands to claim each of his three medals, added: 'The Faroe Islands team deserve a lot of credit. They came to win and were very gracious in defeat.

'All the teams have been getting on well and it really has been the friendly games.'

Alongside his partner Alex Hutchings, Constable had earlier won an entertaining encounter in the bronze medal play-off 21-16, 21-16. After a poor start to the game which saw them trailing 7-2, the Jersey pair found their rhythm to turn the first game around before securing a 2-0 victory.

Jersey's only defeat of the day came in the ladies' singles as Kerry Coombs-Goodfellow, who had heavy strapping around her knee, lost out to Guernsey's Le Tissier 21-15, 21-16.

In what has become one of feel-good stories of the badminton event, the Shetland Islands' Shona Mackay alongside her 54-year-old father Gordon Keith narrowly lost out on mixed doubles gold to the Gotland pair of Björn Eriksson and Caroline Gate having beaten the top seeds on the way to the final. However, it was a terrific performance from the unseeded Shetlands duo to cap what was a tremendous week of badminton entertainment.

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