WHEN it comes to the Island Games, Jersey’s general team manager Morag Obarska has done it all. But the effort that goes into the event never ceases to inspire her, from the athletes she represents, to the organisers relentlessly working overtime to make things run as smoothly as they can, the volunteers, support staff and everyone else playing their part in the sporting theatre that has brought thousands of people together.
Last week, Guernsey 2023 delivered both in terms of the running of the Games and the Jersey athletes who secured 126 medals – including 41 golds.
Naturally, logistics present problems to be solved to the very last. Inclement weather aborted the fast boat and so everyone booked on it was forced to organise alternatives, including Obarska.
Speaking shortly after the conclusion of the Games, she said: ‘I was quite tearful. It’s been a really fantastic Games.
‘I think Guernsey have done a very good job from the opening to closing. We had a few teething problems with transport. We were lucky being a close island that we’ve taken quite a lot of cars over. We also had a brilliant group of people helping. We had our drivers who became Team Jersey as well and that was really brilliant and the hotel staff here have been amazing.’
Over six days, 14 sports – with umpteen different events within them – across 25 venues, there’s a lot going on, but Obarska has done her utmost to catch a little bit of all the action.
‘I actually got to every single sport bar the ones you can’t get near like the pistol range and the full bore. Everywhere else we managed to go and support, even if it wasn’t a full match,’ she said.
Usually the Games are held biennially but owing to the Covid pandemic it has been four years since the last was held in Gibraltar. But for Obarska, it has only meant an increase in standards.
‘I think the level of competition has gone up. The youngsters coming through had that extra preparation time. We’ve seen some amazing matches. I think Jersey is lucky – we’ve got some brilliant young talent who have done really well here, embraced the international competition and really excelled.
‘Watching someone like [double gold-medal-winning table tennis star] Hannah [Silcock] is just a stunning thing, Rhys [Hidrio] in the cycling and the guys at the pool, they’ve had an amazing Games and half their team were under 18. But everybody has contributed.
‘There’s always a buzz after any sort of big competition and for lessor sports like archery they have a little bit of exposure, or shooting. We had two young rifle shooters and who would think that they’d be allowed to go and shoot a gun but it’s done in a controlled environment and a lot of people learned a lot about sports that they didn’t know about.’