By Chris Eynon
for Penguin News

THE Falklands got back on the medal trail after missing out on any in Gibraltar, with a fantastic gold, two silvers and a bronze over the first four days of competition in Guernsey.
Triples bowls team, Chris Locke, Oliver Thompson and Cecil Alexander got the ball rolling when they took silver, Mark Dodd won an excellent bronze in the Kings full bore individual event by the narrowest of margins and Bill Chater then took silver in the Archery Recurve head-to-head knockout. Then on Thursday Kirsty Lewis, Bill Chater, Javier Lazo and Mark Lewis took gold in the Team Knockout against mighty Guernsey. (The latter news is a last minute update so PN doesn’t have full details this week).
The Games got off to an inauspicious start for some of the competitors, with delays to flights out of the Falklands causing some athletes and support staff to arrive several days after they should have. Flight and ferry changes from mainland UK to Guernsey were negotiated and the last arrivals eventually made it to Guernsey a short time after the Opening Ceremony.
Those that made the Opening Ceremony were treated to a live band at the sea front, whilst they waited for all the ceremonial activities to begin. Vicky Chater led the Falklands forward to parade, flying the Falklands flag high, whilst Zoe Clement took part in the water ceremony before the 19th games were officially opened.
Competition got underway on Sunday morning with the highlights coming at the bowling rink and in the badminton hall. The men’s triples team went unbeaten on day one, (a feat which they repeated on day two) to top their group and put themselves in a good position to medal. Badminton started with a 5-0 demolition of Froya in the team competition before putting up some excellent performances against badminton powerhouses Isle of Man and Isle of Wight. The badminton team on day 2 would go on to secure third place in their group by defeating Bermuda and then eventually claim their highest ever finish at an Island Games of 11th place, by defeating Gibraltar 3-1. Throughout the 2 days there were telling contributions in both singles and doubles from Ben Chater, Ross Stewart and Louise Williams, who recorded multiple wins.
Notable results in the singles and doubles would follow on Tuesday with several making it to the second round in their disciplines and Ross Stewart making it to the last 16 having defeated Reid of Orkney and Quayle of Isle of Man. It would be another Isle of Man player who would prove to be Ross’s undoing however, when he lost out to Tobey Chen by a scoreline of 21-19, 21-13.
Basketball got their first Island Games in Falklands colours started against the home Island, in front of the biggest crowd on day one at Beau Sejour Leisure Centre. After a terrific start from the team, they suffered some serious injuries to players, depleting the squad and making things much more difficult for the upcoming games against medal favourites Menorca and Cayman Islands.
Table tennis as well as air, pistol and clay shooting also got their games started on day 1, with firsts for a woman table tennis player for the Falklands and also for any air rifle competitor competing at a games. Golf held practice rounds until they themselves started their first rounds proper on Tuesday with a tricky course littered with gorse and danger at the back of almost every green, making low scoring very difficult.
The afternoon also brought about the first football match, where the young squad put up a wonderful fight against the defending champions Isle of Man, holding them to a 3-0 scoreline in defeat. Further good performances against Ynys Mon and Shetland Island would not be rewarded with results, however given the pedigree of the opposition this would not dishearten the young squad. Two excellent goals scored so far in the competition, one a remarkable strike from a free kick by Balladares into the top corner and the other a well worked team goal finished coolly from the edge of the area by Ethan Gilson-Clarke, bode well for the upcoming playoff match that will determine the final positioning.
A quick Thursday update – the team played their heart out and ultimately lost 4-2 on penalties in a great match to Aaland to finish 14th overall.
Cycling and swimming would get underway on day 2 with notable performances in both from some of our younger athletes. Jake Summers put in a brilliant run in the time trial to edge his more experienced teammate Jim Horton by over a minute and finish in 39th place. The swimming team of Ella Clement, Nell Ford, George Lee, Oscar Casson, Oscar Clausen and Zoe Clement have produced numerous personal bests and also set 4 national records along the way.
The excitement stepped up somewhat on Wednesday however when the Bowling Team secured the first medal. Full bore pair had finished third the previous day in the Kings pairs, however missed out on an actual medal on a technicality, so it was left to the bowling men’s triples to play off against Guernsey women, who boasted a world champion within their ranks. With both teams unbeaten in their groups it would always be a tight affair and Guernsey’s women held out for the win to leave the Falklands to collect the silver.
The disappointment of not being able to collect a bronze for his 3rd place alongside Christian Berntsen and the fact that he arrived just before the Opening Ceremony and had little to no time to get used to the gun he was borrowing, did not deter Mark Dodd. In the full-bore King’s individual, Marks position would fluctuate between 2nd and 5th over the course of the competition, but courtesy of having 2 more ‘v’ bulls than Branch of Guernsey, he would secure bronze and the second medal of the Games for the Falklands.
The most recent medal would come for the Archery team who have so far managed to medal in every games they have competed in. The team of Bill Chater, Mark Lewis, Javier Lazo and Kirsty Lewis shot well on day one in the 1440 recurve, but when they reached the individual knockout, the excitement really started to build. Mark, Javier and Kirsty unfortunately lost out to their opponents in the early rounds, but Bill shooting consistently high scores progressed serenely to the semi finals without losing an end. In the semi final he came up against Bernard Wade III of Bermuda who was seeded second, however he proved to be no match for Bill whose speed in shooting his arrows and consistency of scoring had him in control from the start.
The final was to be against the number 1 seed from Aaland, Daniele Rolfi, who had been performing well all competition. Bill fell 4-0 down early, losing out by small margins in each 3-arrow end, before keeping the match alive when the third end was tied, giving each player a point. With 6 points the target there were no room for errors from Bill and whilst he shot well, his scoring wasn’t quite as high as the early rounds. Having finished his 3 arrows quicker than the man from Aaland again, Bill left his opponent needing a 7 with his last arrow to beat him and when he duly scored a 9, it was to be another silver for the Falklands but a first for Bill having won 2 bronzes at previous games.
As we continue in to the second half of the week, there are more opportunities still to come with Sarah Bonner qualifying well for the Air Rifle final and our bowls team having potential chances in their individual events. All in all a fantastic start to the games for this the largest team ever sent by the Falklands, at an Island Games that has proved well worth waiting the 4 years for.