Wednesday, June 28
Girl power continues to fuel the good ship WIIGA as another medal was mined by one of female athletes.
Once again the gong was won by the irrepressible Kathryn Offer who tocuhed home first ina frenetic, dramatic, whirlwind 50m free style event.
Elsewhere our women footballers picked up a monstrously impressive 4-1 victory over Ynyhs Mhon but were left on their knees after being eliminated from the Games on the margins of goal difference.
The Western Isles women’s team followed up Monday’s massive 2-0 over Isle of Man with another impressive showing to take their week’s tally to six points. This took them level with Aaland who were playing Isle of Man elsewhere.
Isle of Man in turn thrashed Aaland 3-0 and the margins of goal difference shoved our girls down to third despite having won two of their matches and having beaten the team who went through.
Aaland going down 3-0 to Isle of Man was a huge shock andinstead of competing for a 5th/6th placing medal our girls instead end up in the battle for 7th/8th. A day in which they earned aother deserved and historic win will also be remembered as a night of heartbreak.
Mary Macleod and Beth Macleod - the girls who honed their skills on the Airidhantium playground - scored all four goals - two a piece - as the Hebrideans put the Welsh islanders to the slaughter.
Drama reigned too in the women’s road race as Christina Mackenzie and Kirsty MacPhee, our torpedos in tweed, were involved in a sprint finish with up to 15 other riders. All the bikes crossed the finish together in a blur of wheels and lycra forcing a photo finish. The decsiion went against our two speedy superstars who had an official time of just ONE second behind the three who landed on the podium.
Stuart Ashley and Craig McCulloch were in action on the same course following the dramatic end to the women’s event but a strong field of top riders ensured this one wasn’t as bottle necked and dramatic.
On the track both our men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams will run in Friday’s finals although this wasn’t without controversy. The women contested the first heats, running well in 4:15 to qualify.
When the boys took to the blocks it became apparent there was a no-show from the Cayman Islands which meant there was no need for heats and all the men’s relay teams will run in the final.
Eilidh Mackenzie completed what was just her second ever 5K on the track and tore a massive six seconds off her PB as she galloped home in second place. Her form over 5K was impressive and she will be one ot watch as she adjusts to longer distances.
Michael Macmillan ran a superbly tactical 1500m race to qualify for the final later this week as he bided his time, keeping pace with the leaders and not busting a gut unneccesarily.
Peigi McKellar also ran 1500m in the women’s event and she ran well in a strong field.
Calum Fraser was a last minute replacement for Ruaraidh Muncaster who took unwell as he stepped in for his team mate in the 100m heats. Calum dug out a superb run at really short notice and his PB of 11.61 earned him a semi-final run. DJ Macmillan ran a strong 11.79 in the same race.
Eilidh Macleod will also run again following a 200m heat in which she set the track alight.
At Visby Golf Club it was David Black who is again fastening the Comhairle flag to his driver and waving it above his head. He started his second round with a birdie as he eyed a dramatic climb up the rankings.
Another good round followed but his final score card was soured slightly by a triple bogey which earned him a 78. Still a superb score and at the midway point Black sits in 14th spot - just seven off the podium.
Thursday, June 29
Our golden WIIGA girls struck again today in another historic day of medals, personal bests and sheer unadulterated joy.
Eriskay teenager Heather Mackinnon was in tears on the Gutavallen track but there was no sadness. The tears were a mixture of joy, shock and pure delight as she leapt to a stunning gold medal in the triple jump final.
A massive 11.06 leap on her first jump of the night could not be surpassed by any of the other eight finalists in their six attempts each and Heather - to her own surprise - was on top of the podium.
But while she was in shock those that know her best weren’t so surprised as Heather is hugely talented, has the technique all in place to put together jumps of this distance and on the night it all went according to plan.
Her parents and brother and sister were all track side to see her crowning moment and it made for quite the emotional scene as the family all squeezed Heather tightly with a gold medal draped around her neck.
Kathryn Offer, who is moving abroad next week and could have been making her final Island Games swim, defended her 50m back stroke gold medal she won in Jersey two years ago. And she smashed her own Island Games record in the process.
Her remarkable swim took her Gotland tally to three - two golds and a bronze - as the WIIGA swimming machine continue to hoover up medals faster than a Dyson on sawdust.
In the mountain biking the MacPhee girls were in action and just as they did on Tuesday they topped the podium with a sibling one-two. Kerry took gold, Kirsty took silver and they took team gold home to WIIGA HQ.
It was another stunning performance from the South Uist superstars who have now won every mountain biking medal they have raced for over two consecutive Island Games.
Our women footballers continued their stunning form with a third straight victory. This time it was Greenland who fell to the relentless Hebridean heroines. Greenland did have the cheek to go a goal up before Mary ‘she scores when she wants’ Macleod had quite enough of that. She levelled things up before fellow Nicolson Institute pupil Shana Macphail grabbed the winner for our girls.
In the pool there were numerous PB’s as Lucie Doig, Isla Budge, Matthew Hanlon and Katie Murray all using their swims at the Island Games as the springboard to propel themselves like Hebridean torpedos through the Swedish waters and blow seconds off their personal best swims.
Our men footballers contiuned their redemption and recovery from the bowels of despair and the toilet bowl following a severe bout of food poisoning with a second win on the bounce.
The lads drew 1-1 with Hitra in a match which they again dominated but failed to convert possession and sights of goal into goals. After falling behind Alasdair ‘Wally’ Maciver levelled for the Western Isles and the match went to penalty kicks.
Gordon Mackenzie was making his WIIGA debut and just rewards to a player who travelled to Jersey and was unused and had also been on the bench for all three matches prior to this in Gotland.
And it proved to be the scriptwriters dream as Gordy proved to be the hero with a stop in the shoot-out to clinch victory for WIIGA.
The weather on Gotland today was blustery to say the least. Although the breeze was warm it was blowy with gusts peaking at 30 to 40mph which made things difficult in all sports. Not least on the golf course where our smartly dressed foursome were in action.
Once again the best scorecsrd turned in on the day had David Black’s signature on it as he shot an 87. High score and higher than he would normally shoot but everyone had a higher score on the day where it was almost unplayable at times.
Geddes, Rowlands and Macleod all carded 91.
Friday, June 30
The competition slowed down in terms of numbers on the final day but the pace kept at a frenetic level both on the road and the track.
Kirsty MacPhee and Christina Mackenzie took to downtown Visby for the road crit while Craig McCulloch pedalled like he stole it in the men’s event.
Craig rode powerfully and well to keep pace for long spells with a number of full-time riders.
On the track there was a tough shift for our girl sprinters in 4x100m but an impressive 5th across the line
Ross Budge, Michael Macmillan, Andrew Horne and Donnie Macleod ran the men’s 4x400m final. A strong finish from Donnie saw home stomp on the turbo, reel in and overtake a runner and move into fourth place but he ran out of track to reel in third and the bronze as we crossed 4th.
A brilliant run and bittersweet as this looks like being Donnie’s last run. The big man, medal collector, record breaker, is going to switch back to football. He will be a huge, huge loss to athletics and wiiga but a huge coup for football.
In the men’s 1500m final there was a gutsy sprint finish from Michael who went for it in the last 250m but leading pack were just a little too far away
The final event of the entire week was the Half Marathon which both Murdo Alex and Duncan McKellar raced in.
It was a fitting end to a brilliant week.
Two years of hard work, endless effort, streams of sweat, dedication, early mornings, setting goals and dreaming big, blood, tears and iron will, its all but over.
The week passed so quickly its as if the sands of time have hurtled down like an avalanche.
But within this avalanche has been a cascade of gold. A huge haul of prized medals and precious personal bests but perhaps most importantly alongside cherished memories and friendships.
The friendly games brings our squad together like nothing else.
To see our mens footballers roaring on the players from the women’s squad; our women’s footballers en masses pool side for their pals in the swim team; athletes at the mountain biking, medal ceremonies attended by a sea of Western Isles blue, and the golfers out every evening - its a wonderful sight of togetherness which is a culture WIIGA has cultivated.