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Games delegates inspect local facilities

Close to 50 delegates representing 22 member Islands are in Bermuda this week inspecting the facilities for the 15th NatWest Island Games that will kick off in Bermuda exactly one year from today.The Island representatives have been visiting the various sporting sites and other facilities and at a press conference hosted by Sports Ministers, Glenn Blakeney, and attended by Jon Beard, Chairman of the Bermuda Island Games Association, Jorgen Petterson, Chairman of the International Island Games Association, praised the facilities and the determination by Beard’s committee to bring the Games here.“In the Olympics later this summer we will have quite a few athletes who started their career at the NAtWest Island Games,” said Petterson, who hails from the Scandinavian island of Aland which hosted the Games four years ago.“That is the rewarding part of the work that we do within the International Island Games Association and in order to do that you need diversity. We want to present Games where youngsters come in and meet other youngsters from other parts of the world and they can actually see that they are not that different from themselves. But in order to do that we need islands and people who are willing to take responsibility for this to happen because nothing happens automatically.“Ever since 2001 when I first met Jon we saw immediately that this was an Island that wanted to be a part of the association and wanted to make a difference. We knew from the very start that Bermuda one day would be there as an organiser of the NatWest Island Games. And that didn’t happen the first time, which isn’t surprising, but in fact it is what we want from our athletes, we want them to lose a lot before they start to win because that creates character.“Jon and his team went through that, they tried to get the Games earlier but lost in a bidding fight to the Isle of Wight. They did not give up and came back and were even stronger and had an even better team on board.”Locations such as the National Sports Centre, Bermuda College, Warwick Camp, Spanish Point Boat Club and BFA Field will cater to 16 sports; athletics, badminton, basketball, cycling, football, golf, gymnastics, sailing, sailboarding, target shooting, squash, swimming, tennis, triathlon, indoor volleyball and beach volleyball.Bermuda Government will be a major sponsor of the Games, set for July 13-19 next year and involving approximately 1,800 athletes, including more than 200 from Bermuda.“Bermuda is extremely fortunate in having the opportunity to host this event for the first time and I am very pleased that the Games will be held here,” said Blakeney.“Since 1999, NatWest has been the title sponsor for the Island Games which have become one of the largest international multi-sport events in the world, behind the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. Around 2,000 athletes and officials, plus many supporters are expected to attend this prestigious multi-sports event.”Bermuda first appeared in the Games in 2003 in Guernsey and in the five biennial Games in which Bermuda has competed the Island has sent over 700 athletes and won more than 100 medals.Beard acknowledged a great deal of work was going into preparing for the Games in 2013.“Currently we have representatives from most of the islands here and they started looking at venues today,” said Beard. “We were at Spanish Point, we’ve been at Berkeley and the Tennis Stadium and CedarBridge.“Everybody has been overwhelmed and stunningly impressed with our facilities. It is one of our strengths that we are used to putting on high level sports events. So far everything is going well and hopefully today and tomorrow we can show the delegates what Bermuda can really offer and that this time next year we can put on a Games that we all can all be stunningly proud of and that can really pull the Island together.”The International Island Games were founded in the Isle of Man in 1985 and today include 24 member islands in, or associated with, the nine sovereign nations of Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain and the Caribbean.