As most, if not all, of you already know, the seventeenth edition of the NatWest Island Games was recently held in Gotland, Sweden and attracted about 3,000 participating athletes from 23 islands, including the Isle of Man.
Three intrepid athletes and colleagues, Alison Cowin (archery), Nathan Holden (shooting) and Kevin Loundes (athletics), joined the Manx team in Gotland and competed over one week. Along with many other athletes, they contributed to the Isle of Man’s success at the Island Games; the Isle of Man finished at the top of the medal table with 39 golds, 36 silver and 26 bronze. The haul was one the Island’s largest ever, only beaten by the 2001 total when the Isle of Man last hosted the event.
That’s the short story.
The long story is that the Island Games began in 1985 as the Inter-Island Games, part of the Isle of Man’s International Year of Sport, and were intended to be a one-off sporting celebration only. Under the motto “Bringing islands together”, the Games aimed to provide an opportunity for athletes from the different islands to compete internationally, and to forge links between different islands.
Islands with similar history, heritage and geography were invited and in the summer of 1985 the first ever Games were held. 700 participants from 15 islands took part in something that then became an amazing success. The experience was so good that they all wanted to do it again, and the rest is, as they say, history. Since then, the NatWest Island Games has gone from 700 participants, 15 islands and 7 sports to 3,000 participants, 24 islands and 18 sports.
Time has passed and many things have changed over the years, but the Island Games’ success and sporting excellence still remain. What’s the secret behind such a success? What’s behind an athlete’s relentless pursuit of excellence?
Just passion. When athletes have passion, they quickly move through tough times and stay hungry for the next day. Their resiliency is seemingly hard-wired into their DNA; when a particular sport is one’s passion, it becomes not just something they like to do, but rather a part of them as person. When a person is passionate about a sport, it means that they live, breathe, and sleep sport. Of course, pure energy, positive attitude, determination and absolute concentration to overcoming the obstacles and breaking their own limits play an important role. There is no limit to positive values such as commitment, rigor, tenacity and discipline, but passion only can transform them into sporting excellence and personal victory. Without true passion, it is extremely difficult to truly reach the full potential in sport as well as in life.
Let me conclude leaving one last thought. T. Alan Armstrong, author and writer, once said “If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen for you, to you and because of you.”
We can live with a little less of everything… except what makes us feel passionate. It is not a mandatory rule for all, but a good approximation that can be adapted to most of us. And it is the only secret behind every success.
Written by Marta Bellamoli, Marketing Co-ordinator
Pictures [L-R]: Nathan Holden – shooting (ph.credit: Dave Norton), Kevin Loundes (right) – athletics, Alison Cowin & team – archery (ph.credit: Alison Cowin)