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GLASGOW POSTSCRIPT: ONWARDS AND UPWARDS

Sword

Cutting edge performance earns Grace a sword

Gymnast Grace Harrison’s receives the President’s Sword award from Juliet Holt, president of the Commonwealth Games Association of the Isle of Man.

The award is given to the individual – or individuals – who have made an outstanding contribution to the team. It can be awarded to either a competitor or a member of the squad’s support team.

In Glasgow, Grace, 19, became the first female Manx gymnast to reach an individual Commonwealth final in what was her Games debut. She had deferred going to university for a year in order to train full-time in the 12 months before the Games.

Her schedule involved training twice a day, six days a week. Accepting the award, Grace said she was very proud to receive the honour and thanked all those who had helped her to produce her best performance.

She is now studying sports science at Loughborough University, but is also determined to represent the Island at the next Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Tim Kneale Tim Kneale with Isle of Man flag
Proud performer: Flag bearer Tim Kneale leads the team into the opening ceremony. He later won his first British title and in September 2015 took the silver medal for Great Britain in the double trap as well as the gold medal in the team event at the world championships in Italy

Graceful Grace’s outstanding contribution

Charlotte Atkinson

Action girl: Charlotte Atkinson made a strong start to 2015 in foreign parts

Anna Christian

I did it my way: Anna Christian rode an intelligent women’s road race in Glasgow and earned a place in the GB team at the World Championships as well as a professional contract with Wiggle Honda

The conclusion of the Games did not signal the end of the season for many of the team

Small-bore rifle marksman Ben Kelly, a debutant at the ‘Commonwealths’, saw his form improve considerably before the Games had even ended when he won the Great Britain Junior International at Bisley in Surrey, the home of British shooting, on his way back to the Island.

The youngest member of the entire team, Niamh Robinson, 14, was another to sample success before the end of the Games when she nipped away from the village to win a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke and a bronze in the 200m individual medley at the UK age group championships and then returned to enjoy the final night celebrations.

An early 2015 highlight was winning the Lancashire Telegraph Young Sports Personality of the Year award.

Another career landmark came at the end of February when the Amateur Swimming Association selected her to be part of the England Programmes Overseas competition in Russia, which saw promising youngsters competed both individually and as a team against competitors of the same age from Germany, Italy, Ukraine and Russia.

She then went on to compete in the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa.

In China, at the Youth Olympics, immediately after Glasgow, swimmer Charlotte Atkinson found the form she missed in Scotland when she helped Great Britain to a silver medal in a women’s relay and also docked two seconds off her best time in the 100m butterfly.

Atkinson had an extremely busy and successful start to 2015. She was selected to compete for Team GB in the Flanders Speedo Cup in Belgium.

Team GB was made up of 30 swimmers including British Olympians, European and Commonwealth champions. Charlotte reached two finals, finishing fifth in the 100m butterfly and sixth in the 50m butterfly in a highly competitive field of elite swimmers from across Europe.

A little over one week later the 18-year-old was on her way to Portugal to compete in the VII Meeting Internacional de Lisboa 2015, which boasted almost 600 competitors and 84 teams from around Europe and Brazil.

Day one saw Charlotte compete in the 100m butterfly in a field of 36 competitors. The delighted teenager took gold in the final with a time of 1min 0.17sec, setting a new meet record time.

Following this, the Manx swimmer competed in the 4x100m medley relay with the Plymouth Leander Club, taking gold in a time of 4:18.63, some 13 seconds ahead of the second-placed team.

The following day Charlotte took part in the 50m and 200m butterfly. The 50m final was a thrilling race over one length of the pool and saw her grab gold in another meet record time of 27.62s - a mere 0.01 seconds in front of the runner-up.

The 200m butterfly is one of the toughest events on the competition schedule, but Charlotte put in an impressive race from the beginning, keeping ahead of the race favourite from the start and taking gold in a time of 2:13.41 and setting a third new meet record.

Charlotte also competed in the 4x100m freestyle relay heats where the Plymouth Leander club set another record and were named as the top team of the meet.

To round off what was an extremely successful weekend of competition, Charlotte was named top performer out of 250 females based on points. She finished second in the overall medal table behind Portuguese male competitor Alexis Manacas Santos who won four individual golds.

Laura Kinley represented Loughborough University in the Luxembourg Euro meeting in January, 2015, finishing third in the B final of the 50m breaststroke and second in the B final of the 100m breaststroke. Laura was also part of the mixed medley relay team that finished third.

Peter Kennaugh made up for the disappointment of missing the Tour de France by being selected by his professional team for the Tour of Spain and then the World Road Race Championship in Spain. He rode strongly in both, earning high praise. In 2015 he won a stage of the Criterium Dauphine, a pre-Tour de France test, but fell ill during the TdF itself and retired. During the year he also retained his British road race championship title.

Mark Christian
Power point: Mark Christian heads team-mate Peter Kennaugh in the 40km Points race in Glasgow. He later teamed up with England star Owain Doull in the new team formed by Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins
Tim Kneale with Isle of Man flag
On target: Ben Kelly had won the Great Britain Junior GB international at Bisley by the time the Games ended
Man in a hurry: Peter Kennaugh rode very strongly in the Tour of Spain and again in the World Championship road race
Niamh Robinson: Lancashire Telegraph Young Sports Personality of the Year award
Charlotte Atkinson

In the money: David with his partner Tamara McKeown

Jake Kelly earned his spurs with a ride in the junior Tour de France for Great Britain and subsequent call up for the GB Olympic Academy, designed to progress riders through to the Olympics.

Anna Christian, like Jake a member of the Academy, added to her growing reputation by being selected for the Women’s World Road Race Championship, her performances there and in the Commonwealths also securing her a professional contract.

Sadly, however, after making her track debut at a British Cycling Revolution meeting in Manchester in December, she suffered a fall on a slippery patch of road in Wales while training a day or so later, breaking her left wrist and collarbone.

Mark Christian, elevated soon after Glasgow to British Cycling’s Olympic Podium Squad, maintained his excellent form and rode the Tour of Britain, won a silver medal at the British track championships and then found himself in demand by GB for the European Track Championships and rounds of the of 2014/15 Track World Cup, his Glasgow performances doing the trick.

The best ‘result’ came in December shortly after securing two golds in the London round of the World Cup, when it was announced that he was one of nine riders selected for Sir Bradley Wiggins’s development squad, put together with the goal of winning track medals for Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Sir Bradley, who will also ride for the squad, said the aim was also to ‘find the next Bradley Wiggins or Chris Hoy. That is something that I think would really drive me for the next ten years. That is kind of what the start of this team is about; it’s that grassroots, the future of the sport and finding the next champion’.

Harry Creevy went to Spain for the World Shooting Championships but sadly he and his 300m team-mates couldn’t find the form that won them the title in 2010.

Tim Kneale made the GB team, too, and also won his first British title. In September 2015, he won gold in the three-man world championship double trap team event in Lonato, Italy, and took silver in the individual class, helping to qualify Great Britain more places at the Olympics in Brazil.

Grace Harrison kept on competing ahead of her first year at university, which she had deferred so as to compete in Glasgow, and shone at the Northern European championships, making the individual final and also two apparatus finals. She and her companions placed sixth in the British teams championship.

There was also an invitation for representatives of the team, along with athletes and officials from other home country teams, to visit the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at No 10.

The biggest winner of them all, however, turned out to be clays marksman David 'Wilfy' Walton who won £1m on the Euro millions lottery and pledged to put some of his winnings into developing his skills with an eye on further medals to go with the bronze he won in 2006.

David, a lorry driver and plant operator, said it was 'fabulous to think I now have the money to spend on taking my shooting to the next level'.

Reception
Taking 10: Elements of the Manx team and representatives from other home countries were invited to a reception hosted by the Prime Minister.
(Left to right) Niamh Robinson, Rachel Glover, Leonie Cooil, Chris Till, Alex Hedges and Mukunda Measuria
Graceful: Grace Harrison’s form at the Games continued at the Northern European championships and the British teams championship