AS JERSEY’S Commonwealth Games athletes arrive home, they are reflecting on some outstanding performances and invaluable sporting experiences.
The Birmingham Games was also something of a test for a new model for the host country designed to make it more affordable for cities to bid to hold the event and secure its future.
Team manager Morag Obarska, who was yesterday still busy ensuring the team members arrived back safely, said it had been a very successful Games, although some things still needed to be ironed out on the organisational side.
‘Birmingham has been outstanding with their volunteers, the friendliness of the Games. Everyone has been very helpful – if there are problems they sort them,’ she said.
‘There’s been a really good atmosphere and the spectators have also had a wonderful time. Jersey spectators have been very vocal. You have that advantage that a home Games creates. Jersey people, and people living in the UK with Jersey associations, you have that flag waving, cheering for the team.’
She said that the performances of the Jersey team had been outstanding.
Hannah Silcock in the table tennis, Daniel Lee in gymnastics and Zachary Saunders in the 200m were just some of her highlights.
For the younger Jersey athletes there has been much to learn.
‘It’s a different process. The security, being announced on a big stage, the cameras, also that learning scenario away from the sport, all those bits that go with it,’ said Obarska.
‘What it’s like to walk into thousands of people with the cameras, that’s quite something to learn, and they then have that confidence next time.
‘Learning what village life is like, how to keep entertained, that’s tough. You have quite a bit of downtime in which you have to keep yourself motivated.’
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There was an inspirational aspect to the Commonwealths, she said – others can see what it is possible for Jersey athletes to achieve.
The Games also raised the profile of all the sports involved.
The 2026 Commonwealth Games will take part in the Victoria region in Australia.
It will be the first time the event has been held across multiple cities.
Birmingham did not have a central athletes village and some events were in the surrounding area – the bowls in Leamington Spa and cycling road race beginning and ending in Warwick.
It largely made use of existing facilities.
‘There’s been challenges of being in a split village scenario, but we managed to create a team atmosphere in each village, which is important in a multi-sport scenario,’ said Obarska.
‘The challenges that the organising committee had in creating villages from university accommodation in a short time threw up some extra work, but we got there.’
She said that the venues had been superb.
‘We had the usual hiccups with transport, that’s always a problem with the Games, but everyone adapted to the bus scenario, they learnt to go early to get to there events. There’s always bits that need tweaking.’
She said that split set up was inevitable for people to be able to bid to host the Games.
‘People can’t afford to build the infrastructure,’ she said.
‘Victoria will be a good test.’