NatWest Island Games: Double gold for Manx athletes in Gotland

By Dave Norton in Athletics

The Isle of Man’s athletes got off to a blistering start on their first night of the 2017 NatWest Island Games in Gotland.

There were medals galore for the Manx athletics contingent who claimed no fewer than four medals at the Gutavallen stadium in Visby, including two golds.

The honour of clinching Team IoM’s first medal of the 17th Games went to Richard Bell who claimed third place and bronze in the men’s hammer throw final.

In front of good local support from fellow Manxies, Josh Hewett then eased to a comfortable victory in the men’s high jump final.

The 17-year-old looked confident and composed throughout the event and, going into the Games with a personal best of 2.09m, the teenager was happy to take a backseat while his rivals worked their way up to 196cm.

When Iwan Parry of Ynys Mon failed to clear 198cm in his three attempts, Hewett’s gold medal was confirmed and he even proceeded to jump clear at 204cm to rubberstamp his victory in style.

Seconds after his success was confirmed, there was further joy for the Manx faithful as Ollie Lockley clinched the honours in the men’s 10,000m.

There was bad luck for Kevin Loundes who tumbled during the race and did not finish, but his team-mate cruised round with Lee Merrien of Guernsey before putting his foot down in the final lap and storming to a fine win.

The island’s medal haul was completed by Bethan Pilley who claimed an excellent silver medal in the women’s long jump.

Aland’s Hanna Wiss successfully defended her title but Pilley proved to be her nearest challenger, eventually gracing the second step on the podium thanks to her effort of 5.56.

Team-mate Amber Sibbald also nearly claimed a podium but in the end settled for fifth with 5.06.

Reaction and photographs in Tuesday’s Isle of Man Examiner.

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