Behind the scenes in athletics so much is going on in preparation for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this year. Aside from the athletes themselves and the work by the Isle of Man Commonwealth Games Association (IOMCGA), the Isle of Man Athletics Association (IOMAA) are gearing up for the crucial final stages in the athlete selection process with the nominations in March and the final selection at the end of April.
Those involved in the IOMAA bring a variety of skills and experience which they hope will improve all areas of athletics on the Island, people such as Chairman of IOMAA David Pryke (father of sprinter Harriet Pryke) who having seen his daughters progression through the sport wanted to play a part in amalgamating the various teams that competed in off-Island events into one strong united team, which has now been achieved. Alan Callow is a committee member and competed as a race walker before turning his hand to coaching in the 1970s and brings his experience of coaching and competing around the globe to the association. Steve Partington is another member who has been appointed Athletics Team Manager for the Games and brings 25 years of experience in the sport, so who better to help lead our Manx athletes to Commonwealth Games success?
Melbourne 2006 was Steve’s final Commonwealth Games as a competitor. Since then he was involved with the Delhi 2010 Games as Assistant General Team Manager. Steve says: “My job pre-Games is to provide a link between the Commonwealth Games Association and the athletes. I am the person who the athletes contact with any problems or queries, and hopefully I can facilitate solutions. I have found the change from competitor to official to be quite straightforward. I know what I needed and appreciated as an athlete and I am trying to provide that type of support as an official. I fully understand the pressures involved in competing at this level and would like to hope that the athletes feel they can discuss any concerns or anxieties with me.”
During the Games Steve’s role will be to support the athletics team in whatever way is required. He will be there to make the duration of the Games as calm and trouble-free for the athletes as possible, so that they can concentrate on their performance. Manx athletics is pretty exciting at the moment, and that will hopefully be reflected in Glasgow. There are four athletes who have already achieved the required consideration standards, but are yet to be selected for the Games.
- Keith Gerrard, 27 years old, 5,000metres and 10,000metres distance runner who came second in the British Championships at 10,000 metres and gained a consideration time for the Games with that performance. He has twice won the English National Cross-Country title.
- Harriet Pryke, 23-year-old sprinter who is currently ranked 11th in UK for 400metres senior women.
- Regan Dee, age 19, a high jumper who is currently training whilst recovering from an injury.
- Olivia Curran, a 22-year-old pole vaulter who previously represented the Island as a gymnast and switched to pole vaulting less than two years ago. She was a member of the Island’s gymnastics team at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, however due to injury in pre-event training she returned home without competing. Olivia switched to pole vaulting less than two years ago.
In addition to these there are two other hopefuls that are yet to achieve their qualifying standards, Joe Reid and Ryan Fairclough each hoping to take part in men’s 400metres and 800metres respectively.
Steve said: “The Isle of Man has always enjoyed the sort of team spirit that only a small country can generate and I know that the athletics team are looking forward to being part of that in Glasgow. However, the Commonwealth Games are all about the competition and it is realistic to think that our athletes can get into the semi-finals or finals in their events. Above all, it is a fantastic opportunity for our Manx athletes to compete against some of the best athletes in the world.”
Team Isle of Man’s Glasgow 2014 squad (for athletics and all other sports) will be announced on May 8. The Isle of Man Commonwealth Games Association is the organisation responsible for the publicity, fundraising, travel, and support for Team Isle of Man’s participation at the Commonwealth Games. It is a registered charity (No.644) and relies upon fundraising events and donations to fund the team. Find out about fundraising initiatives planned in the countdown to Glasgow 2014 at www.cga.im where you can also make donations.