Back in October 2015, Gibraltar discovered it had been successful in its bid to host the 2019 Natwest Island Games. Hosting for a second time. the British Overseas Territory on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula is set to welcome around 2000 visitors – including athletes, coaches and staff – from all over the world, giving the islanders an all too rare opportunity to watch live international sport on their home turf.
We caught up with Gibraltar team manager Louis Chichon for a chat about the Games, and the different perspective they’ll have of the Games as hosts.
KUDOS: So what does your role as team manager entail?
Louis: My official title is General Team Manager, so I’m in charge of all the team managers (within each sport), and all the competitors across the 14 different sports. With us hosting the event this year it’s not as difficult as when we go away to other islands – when you’re in charge of sorting out all the flights, the accommodation, the welfare and care of the athletes…so there’s not as much to worry about. Not having as much to worry about in this role means I have another alongside it – Sports Director!
Do you think the athletes feel any more pressure as the home nation?
Well we feel a sense of pride as the host nation. The last time we hosted the Island Games in 1995 some of the athletes this time around weren’t even born then! But there are great expectations, yes. About 70% of the athletes who went to Gotland in 2017 will be competing again, and so obviously 30% of the team are newcomers and there’s quite a lot of youngsters. The lack of costs compared to when we have to go away means we can have more people competing.
Have any of your athletes competed at any of the more well-known multi-sports events?
Oh yeah – we’ve had a number of representatives at the Commonwealth Games, Worlds and European Championships. We tend to be pretty well represented in swimming, athletics and shooting.
Fair to say the standard of competition at the Games is pretty high then?
Definitely. We have some semi-professional athletes and we have a tennis player who is on the circuit. The standard of our shooting is also very high (17 of Gibraltar’s 26 medals in 2017 came in the shooting).
How would you sum up the Games to someone who might not know anything about it?
Like a mini Olympics! There are 14 sports – 16 if you include the the 3 shooting disciplines – and we’re represented in them all. So I would say it’s a mini Olympics. There will be 22 islands participating in the Games with about 1700 athletes in total – plus of course all the officials, coaches etc. We’ve organised a Games Village and about 60% of the people will be staying there, while the rest have opted to stay in hotels. It’s going to be a very friendly atmosphere. Finally I’d like to thank all of our sponsors – there are so many, too many to name – but I’d like to thank all of them!
And we’d like to thank Louis for taking the time to speak to us! As hosts, there’s certainly pressure on everybody connected to Gibraltar 2019 to deliver an event that runs well and everybody enjoys – and we are in no doubt whatsoever that they’ll pull it off with flying colours.
Good luck to everybody connected with Gibraltar – and we look forward to seeing the team in their KUDOS kit!
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