Ten-strong Guernsey team depart for Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad
Ten promising young competitors and their enthusiastic management team have set off for the long-anticipated Youth Commonwealth Games.
Team Guernsey will be represented in two sports in Trinidad & Tobago, which Sara Parfit – the manager of an eight-strong swim squad – sees as a ‘very big step up’ for all the young athletes.
Competitors will go against some of the best 18-and-under athletes from around the home nations and other powerhouse countries like Australia.
‘It’s going to be a high-class competition, which is very exciting for them, but obviously a great stepping stone to the full Commonwealths in 2026,’ she said.
‘So, hopefully, a great motivating factor for them.’
Two cyclists are also competing, but swimmers make up the bulk of Guernsey’s squad – and Parfit is rather pleased to see so many representing the island.
‘How amazing is that we can take eight swimmers to a competition of this standard and straight after the success we had at the Island Games?’ she said.
‘Everybody’s on a high, me included.’
Oriana Wheeler initially looked set to miss out due to a pandemic delay but thanks to World Aquatics amending the maximum age for female swimmers to 18, she was one of three late additions to the team.
Not only that, she will share flag-bearer duties with fellow swimmer Luke Le Cras.
Wheeler called the opportunity to carry the flag ‘amazing’ and was similarly enthusiastic about the high standard of competition.
‘It’s an amazing opportunity when you’ve got such fast people to race against,’ she said.
‘Obviously on an island you don’t get such diversity within your athletes, so I’m just going to soak up everything I can, use the time to push myself and see what I can get while I’m there.’
That is a sentiment that will be shared by many teammates, considering the difficulty of winning medals at this level.
Guernsey Commonwealth Games Association director and cycling stalwart Karina Bowie expects it to be a ‘fantastic experience’ for road riders Helena Duguid and Chay Kennedy-Cook.
‘I think the Games in Trinidad and Tobago has just come at exactly the right time because everybody’s still buzzing from the Island Games,’ she said.
‘I know Chay wasn’t riding in the Games, but he was so involved in it.
‘He’s good friends with all the team members. He’s really been a part of that Team Guernsey experience. '
'Both of them are so hungry for the sport, they love it. It's not a hobby, it's a lifestyle for them - it's what they've always done'.
Guernsey team for Trinbago 2023
Swimming: Oriana Wheeler, Jemima Green, Hannah Jones, Hannah Kennedy, Delphine Riley, Erin Watterson, Luke Le Cras, Joshua Dunning
Cycling: Helena Duguid, Chay Kennedy-Cook