‘Half Games’ fears

DELAYING the home NatWest International Island Games would be preferable to hosting a watered-down ‘Half Games’ next year, says one leading swimming official.

Breast to breast in Gibraltar: Big Channel Island rivals Charlie-James Hallett and Robert Jones push hard in the men's 200m breaststroke. Neither man will see much competitive action this calendar year. (Picture by Rob Currie, 28437975)
Breast to breast in Gibraltar: Big Channel Island rivals Charlie-James Hallett and Robert Jones push hard in the men's 200m breaststroke. Neither man will see much competitive action this calendar year. (Picture by Rob Currie, 28437975)

Barracudas head coach Sara Parfit, who managed Guernsey’s swim team at Gibraltar 2019, does not mind waiting to ensure that the island can stage the best event possible.

Her thoughts were in response to the Guernsey 2021 organising committee’s announcement that they will decide in late September as to whether the Games go ahead as planned next July.

‘My feelings would be that I hope it’s a Games where everybody comes,’ said Parfit.

‘It’s something for everybody, not just swimming, and if we’ve got got islands that are not able to come for some reason, whether financial or just still battling the coronavirus, it just makes it almost a “Half Games.”

Local training facilities reopened just over two weeks ago and while competition may only resume in autumn with solely domestic options, Guernsey swimmers still have a leg up on many of their traditional rivals. Many county, national and international meets have been lost to the pandemic, even the Commonwealth Youth Games, which have been moved from August 2021 to 2023.

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‘I think all the swimmers will be disappointed if it doesn’t happen next year, as we’ve had a lot of cancellations already,’ added Parfit.

‘There’s a lot of disappointment at not being able to compete and there’s a lot of excitement about the Games, but a lot of swimmers will not have thought about the implications.’

A theoretical one-year postponement would mean the local spectacle concludes around two weeks before the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games start, but Parfit is not fretting.

‘Working in a team at the Island Games gives people such a high and I think it would prepare them well to go the Commonwealths.’

Barry Hallett, the proud father of promising swim siblings Charlie-Joe and Ronny, added: ‘I know the boys would be disappointed [following postponement], but they would say “Better safe than sorry”.’

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