In this feature on St Helena’s Commonwealth Games team, we introduce the island itself, the difficulties they’ve had arriving at previous Games and how those epic journeys are now a thing of the past…

2022 Commonwealth Games

Kicking off last week with a spectacular opening ceremony and a performance by returning local heroes Duran Duran, the 2022 Commonwealth Games – held in Birmingham – is now well and truly underway. Competing alongside the regular big-hitters like England, Canada and Australia are the usual raft of smaller countries and territories not usually given the opportunity to compete at such an elite level.

For those smaller nations, while the ambitions of most of their competitors may be modest, the value of the Commonwealth Games to their athletes is immense – and it is with these athletes and nations that many of the Games’ most romantic stories can be found. One of those is the minuscule British overseas territory of Saint Helena.

17 year old sprinter Aiden Yon-Stevens lines up for St Helena at the start of the 100m heats

St Helena – a tiny island with big character

A volcanic tropical island lying 1931kms from the coast of Angola in the South Atlantic Ocean, Saint Helena measures just 10×5 miles and has a population of around 4500. That tiny population is doubtless a factor in Saint Helenians’ (also known as ‘Saints’) most notable characteristic – they are known for their friendliness, and everyone waves and greets each other in the street, even to passing cars. It’s a far cry from London!

The sheer remoteness of the territory, and total absence of transport links to the rest of the world, has in the past made it unfeasibly difficult for its team of athletes and officials to reach the Commonwealth Games. For the 2014 Games in Glasgow, a party of eight – half a dozen athletes and two officials – set off on a five-day crossing to Cape Town on 11 July before arriving in Scotland fully ten days later.

St Helena athletes prepare to fly out to Birmingham

Epic journeys now a thing of the past

St Helena had always relied on RMS St Helena, a cargo-passenger ship and one of the last remaining Royal Mail ships, for the transportation of people and goods. Since 2016, however, it has boasted its own airport – making access to Queensland in 2018 and Birmingham 2022 substantially and mercifully easier than the epic schleps endured by their predecessors.

The Commonwealth Games is truly a life-affirming experience for St Helena’s athletes. It first took part in the Commonwealth Games in 1982, after which they were absent for 16 years. They returned in 1998 and have competed, by hook or by crook, in every Games since.

In 2014 its six athletes represented the country in swimming, badminton and shooting. This time around, 11 proud athletes – William Caswell, Stefan Thomas, Duwaine Yon, Joshua Yon, Vivienne Ponsford, Poppy Davis-Coyle, Brooke Yon, Sean Crowie, Aiden Yon-Stevens and Tye Leo-Stroud – represent St Helena in athletics, swimming and badminton – and KUDOS is thrilled to have supplied the kit once again.

KUDOS SPORTS – A LEADING SUPPLIER OF CUSTOM TEAMWEAR

KUDOS supplies made-to-order teamwear to a range of sports clubs across the globe. We supply bespoke custom kit that is built for performance and worn with pride. Use our one minute kit designer to design your kit today.

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