A 25 strong Western Isles Island Games Association (WIIGA) athletics, triathlon and cycling squad gathered at Badaguish near Aviemore recently for a hugely successful training and information camp.
While the upcoming NatWest Island Games Jersey 2015 wasn’t far from participants’ thoughts, with it being only eight months away, the focus was very much on future games, and creating an on-going development opportunity and pathway.
As well as those who have met the WIIGA standards, this new initiative - organised by the athletics team, led by manager, Mairi Levack - also saw others showing potential given the opportunity to be involved.
This included a number of promising youngsters, as WIIGA continues to build on recent successes and looks to the future. The weekend was also a great team bonding opportunity as the younger guys mixed with the more established squad members who have been at previous games.
The aim of the camp was to give these athletes – young and old - something clear to aim for, as they see that they can also be part of the Island Games experience with further hard work and progression.
The final squad selection will be made in April / May, so there is still an opportunity for all eligible athletes to stake a place in the team.
There were fascinating information sessions on Nutrition and Diet, and Strength and Conditioning delivered with real passion by Edinburgh based Dean Robertson of Elysium Personal Training.
Jane Williams from Stirling University gave an interesting and helpful presentation on Sports Psychology. In addition to that the endurance runners, sprinters and cyclists also had various training sessions.
Donnie MacLeod who won gold over 800m and silver over 400m at the NatWest Island Games Bermuda 2013 was really encouraged by the gathering, saying: “It’s been great to see many of the squad who were in Bermuda, and also to see the squad develop and move on with new athletes coming through.
“Hopefully this can be something that happens every second year, as it really helps to keep the momentum going, and gives you a focus.”
Eilidh Mackenzie, who took gold over 1500m along with 2 bronze medals (800m and 4x400m relay) in Bermuda, thought the training camp was a great idea, particularly for bringing in new squad members.
She said: “I think it must be quite tough for people to come into it who don’t know everyone. There are a lot of people who have been there every year. So it’s really important for the people who haven’t been on the team before to be here. There was a really strong team spirit too, which is what it’s all about.”
One of the newcomers to the squad was triathlete and mountain biker, Kirsty MacPhee, sister of double gold and double bronze Bermuda medalist Kerry.
Kirsty has been inspired by her sister Kerry’s achievements since then in making Scotland’s Commonwealth Games Mountain biking team, and would love to follow in her big sister’s footsteps.
Kirsty said: “I plan to work towards Jersey, and I’ll see if I can get stronger on the bike. If I can get the work done you never know. We’ll see!”
Jenny Mactaggart was only 16 when she was part of the bronze medal winning 4x400m women’s relay team in Bermuda.
Jenny, who recently started studying at University in Glasgow, was particularly pleased to see many of her peers from the athletics clubs in Stornoway, North Uist and South Uist and Eriskay now breaking into
the development squad.
She felt it had been a great learning weekend, and described how she had benefited: “It’s been really good to all get together, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing my old training pals from SRAC.
“It’s been particularly useful to get so much information about diet, nutrition, sports psychology and training that we can take away and work on and find out more about, and I think there’s a really clear development opportunity for all of us.
“The training was also really good - in particular the chance to do some relay work.” The WIIGA athletics and cycling management teams would like to thank both the NatWest Sports Development Programme for
the grant, and West Coast Energee for the sponsorship, which made the weekend possible.