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ALEX SHINES IN THE GLOOM 1970

1970 Isle of Man Team
Brave hearts: The team poses beneath Arthur’s Seat (left to right) Brian Cowley, Nigel Dean, Alex Jackson, John Cannell, Mike Kelly, Brian Whitehead, Curwen Clague, Peter Clague, Rev Fred Cubbon, Peter Kniveton, Ron Killey, Ernie Potter, Nora Jackson, Brian Roche, Denis Lace, Colin Bowen (wearing, sunglasses), Ian Hodgkinson, Anne Corlett, Allan Callow and team attaché James Guthrie.

Athletics: Allan Callow (20-mile walk), John Cannell (20-mile walk), Ian Hodgkinson (20-mile walk), Brian Cowley (200 and 400m)
Swimming: Alex Jackson (100 and 200m freestyle)
Cycling: Nigel Dean (road race, 1000m time trial, 4000m pursuit), Brian Roche (road race), Ernie Potter (road race), Colin Bowen (road race), Mike Kelly (10-mile scratch race and 4000m pursuit)
Badminton: Peter Kniveton (men’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles), Peter Clague (men’s singles and doubles), Ann Corlett (women’s singles and mixed doubles)
Team officials: general team manager, Curwen Clague; assistant team manager and cycling manager, Ron Killey; swimming manager/coach Nora Jackson; athletics, Dennis Lace; HQ official, Brian Whitehead
13 athletes, 5 officials (18), flag: Mike Kelly; commandant: Rev Fred Cubbon
42 countries 1383 competitors

Scotland 1970

The Island licked it collective lips at the prospects of more medals when Scotland finally hosted the Games in Edinburgh.

Sadly, though, Peter Buckley, winner of the Manx International road race in 1969 and an integral part of the Great Britain squad, was not present to defend his cycling road race title having lost his life while out training the previous year.

However Peel Swimming Club’s Alex Jackson, an 18-year-old student, coached by her mother, Nora, would add her name to the Island’s roll of honour.

Alex, born in Dublin, was a regular competitor in local galas before becoming Britain’s best sprint swimmer in the four years since she was denied a place in the Manx team that competed in Jamaica.

Within two years of that disappointment, she was on the starting block for the 100m final in the Mexico Olympics, where she placed sixth. She was the firm favourite to beat off the Canadian and New Zealand threat in the 100m, but she ‘died’ with 20 metres to go, and she was devastated to finish fourth.

The recuperation process was soon in gear with Alex’s mother providing the mental stimulus and encouragement to get her daughter back up to speed for the 200m.

She didn’t disappoint at her least favourite distance – a new one at the Games - and came home a superb third in a new British record time.

The Edinburgh Games, the largest to date with 1383 competitors from 42 countries, were unique in some respects: the Queen attended for the first time, photo-finish was introduced and metric measurements were adopted for swimming and athletics.

However there was nothing different about the Scottish climate, and as would be the case 16 years and four Games later when the Games returned to the city, the weather played up and caused endless problems, not least on the pine-clad outdoor cycling track.

Manx badminton was represented for the first time in the shape of Fencibles pair Peter Kniveton, 35, and Peter Clague, 29, both school teachers and enthusiastic off-Island competitors, who were joined by Anne Corlett. The gulf, however, between our church hall venue badminton and what amounted to a world stage was acute.

Encouraged by first round successes in the singles, both men were ousted in the next round while hairdresser Corlett, 28, lost to a Scot, also in the first round.

Boundary Harriers’ boys Allan Callow, 24, John Cannell, 24, and Ian Hodgkinson, 22, winner of the previous year’s Parish Walk, took on the 20-mile walk but were out-paced by the likes of the Australian Olympic silver medallist and his world record holder compatriot.

Hodgkinson, suffering from the onset of anaemia, lasted just seven miles.

1970 Alex Jackson
Going swimmingly: Alex Jackson set a new British record on her way to third place in the 200m freestyle, a new event at the Games

On the athletics track, Brian Cowley’s times for the 200 and 400m compared favorably with those of other small countries but, as with badminton, the huge gulf in standards between the top and the also-rans was significant.

Nigel Dean, 22, and Ernie Potter, 25, returned for the cycling team, the former having built himself a huge reputation in the UK and Ireland. He had ridden the two-week long Tour of Britain stage race for the national team, which gave him a keen edge for the gruelling and multiple ascents of Arthur’s Seat, the prominent feature of the 102-mile road race.

There was solid support from Brian Roche, 27, winner of the Viking Trophy over two laps of the TT Course the previous year and journeyman Colin Bowen, 26, with Dean and Potter eventually finishing a very creditable 6th and 7th respectively in terrible conditions, the 31 laps taking its toll on the field.

Fifty-eight were entered for the event but only 43 came to the line and there were just 24 finishers, the victor, in a photo finish, being Bruce Biddle (NZ).

On the open 250m wooden velodrome, the team’s flag bearer Mike Kelly, 18, and Dean both struggled in the individual 4000m pursuit, while in the 1000m time trial, Dean matched his time of four year’s earlier but only placed 21st.

Similarly, there was no joy for Kelly in one of the two heats of the 10-mile scratch race to decide the make-up of the final 20-rider field.

It was felt that there was need to improve the Island’s general competitiveness and perhaps the best result of the Games came two years later with the formation of the IoM Sports Council.

Tynwald voted it financial assistance for coaching and the development of sports facilities and three members of the Games Association became members of the council.

The provision of pre-Games preparation and training grants for Games ‘possibles’ were also welcome developments with £2,000 eventually being made available ahead of what would be the most expensive participation so far in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Currie hotfoots it from the Isle of Man

■ With the UK appeal not operating for the 1970 Games, funding had to be amassed locally and it was estimated that the cost would be £100-a-head.

■ In May, 1970, the England swimming squad trained at the 33m Aquadrome pool, opened a year earlier, and boosted local swimming. The same month, the Island was represented at a royal television gala in London, attended by the Queen, the proceeds being shared by the home countries’ Games appeal funds.

■ The local appeal raised nearly £1,000 and it was agreed 13 competitors plus officials could be financed at a cost of about £1,700. On the eve of departure, the appeal fund reached £1,795. The Manx Government chipped in £250, £450 came from the TV show, and a swimming night raised £184.

■ Badminton’s Peter Kniveton was appointed team captain and Mike Kelly, a nephew of Bill Kelly, who carried the Manx flag at the Games in Wales, was appointed flag bearer. The final cost of participation came to £1,870.

■ Stalwart Manx athletics official Arthur Currie was summoned from the Isle of Man to act as a starter for the track cycling events after the Scottish official fell ill.

Results

1970 Medals

Top 200m freestyle trio (left to right): second placed Angela Coughlan, winner Karen Moras (Australia) and bronze medallist Alex Jackson

ATHLETICS

Men's 200m, gold: Don Quarrie (Jamaica) 20.6
Brian Cowley - 22.9 (44/53)
400m, gold: C. Asati (Kenya) 45.0
Brian Cowley - 51.3 (38/45)
20-mile walk, gold: N. Freeman (Australia) 2.33.33
Alan Callow – 2.51.21 (13/21)
John Cannell – 2.56.19 (15/21)
Ian Hodgkinson - DNF

CYCLING

Men's road race (102 miles), gold: Bruce Biddle (New Zealand)
Nigel Dean - 6/43 at 3.59
Ernie Potter - 7/43 at 5.58
Brian Roche - 16/43 at 10.56
Colin Bowen - DNF
4000m individual pursuit, gold: Ian Hallam (England) 5.01.41
Nigel Dean - 5.28.5 (16/26)
Mike Kelly - 5.33.4 (18/26)
1000m individual time trial, gold: Harry Kent (New Zealand) 1.08.69
Nigel Dean - 1.15.9 (21/32)
10-mile scratch, gold Jocelyn Lovell (Canada)
Mike Kelly – did not qualify for final

1970 March
"The way to go: Flag bearer Mike Kelly leads the team as it salutes the Duke of Edinburgh at the opening ceremony. Curwen Clague, immediately behind Kelly said the ceremony was ‘a solemn and integral part of the Games’. Marching was still required and stern ex-Manx Regiment man Clague demanded that ‘all members of the team will take part and be dressed in the official uniform’

BADMINTON

Men’s singles, gold: Jamie Paulson (Canada)
Peter Kniveton - beat J. Pin Harry (Mauritius) 15/5, 15/4 first round, lost 15/4, 15/1 to B. Rollick (Canada) second round
Peter Clague - beat J. Li Sing (Mauritius) 15/6, 15/3 first round, lost 15/4, 15/4 to S. Bahtia (India) second round
Men’s doubles, gold: Malaysia (Boon Bee Ng and G. Panachaharam)
Peter Kniveton and Peter Clague - lost 15/11, 15/6 to Hume and Gow (Scotland) first round
Mixed doubles, gold: England (D. Talbot and M. Boxall)
Peter Kniveton and Anne Corlett - lost 15/1, 12/15, 15/10 to Flockhart and Flockhart (Scotland) first round
Women’s singles, gold: M. Beck (England)
Anne Corlett - lost 11/0, 11/3 to J. Flockhart (Scotland) first round

SWIMMING

Women's 100m freestyle, gold: Angela Coughlan (Canada) 61.22
Alex Jackson - 60.87 - fastest qualifier/22, 4/8 in final 61.81
200m freestyle
1, Karen Moras (Australia) 2.09.78; 2, Angela Coughlan (Canada) 2.10.83; 3, Alex Jackson (IoM) 2.13.52 (British record)