manxcommonwealthgames.com Facebook  Follow us

Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Games Logo 2018 website 2018 website

SO CLOSE TO GLORY page 2

Harry Creevy, 6th, 50m small-bore rifle individual, Victoria, Canada, 1994

Harry Creevy

After eight: Team-mate Lara Ward knows the score and reminds Harry Creevy just how many appearances he made at the Games

Harry Creevy

Suited and booted: Harry Creevy in competitive mode

Harry Creevy

Harry Creevy: Mad Hatter

Small-bore shooter Harry Creevy was a man on a mission in Victoria, Canada, in 1994.

His training schedule the previous year had taken him to a range in Germany, where he met a local police sergeant and marksman, who was to become his guiding influence ahead of Canada.

Armed with a game plan, Harry had abandoned the heavy schedule of Auckland four years earlier, and the air rifle was not in his baggage.

The signs prior to the 50m individual prone competition were extremely promising. Creevy carded an encouraging 595 ex 600 in the pairs pre-Games shoot and also a 591 in the individual event to finish third behind eventual gold medal winner Stephen Petterson (NZ). He also equalled the British record of 399 ex 400 in the prone section of the three position event.

Thirty-nine competitors came under starter’s orders for the individual event and Creevy maintained his form with 590 ex 600 to qualify as one of eight to contest the first ever Olympic final adopted by the Games.

Finalists have to take aim for a further 10 shots, each shooting one shot in turn with the fractionalised outcome being called out.

The atmosphere was a tense as anything I can recall in a sporting theatre. Shooting, apart from the clays disciplines, provides none of the glamour and allure, say, of a running race on the track, but the tension involved is quite acute.

I remember making the softest whispered comment imaginable to Manx Radio’s Geoff Cannell, only to be ‘scolded’ by a coach, who gave me an intense stare and very forcibly planted his index finger to his lips.

While the outcome of the top two places was never really in doubt from the initial stages, the gold going to New Zealand crack shot Petterson, who had helped win the pairs for NZ, Harry plugged away gamely for the bronze.

Scores of 9.4 and a 9.7 didn’t help his cause and in the end he had to settle for sixth, one place ahead of Scotland’s Alister Allen, who had taken gold ahead of Watterson in 1978. Ironically, Allan was to become coach to the Manx pair.

Declaring that he had let himself down, Creevy was soon buoyed, however, by an invitation, readily accepted, to join the Great Britain squad, relishing the opportunities the regime offered him.

Trying to qualify GB for the Olympics with great friend, training partner and rival Mike Babb consumed a lot of time and energy and, ultimately, Harry never made it, although it was always close to a berth in the team.

In between World Cup rounds, Creevy did himself no harm by consolidating his position as one of the Commonwealth’s top marksmen, not to mention victories in various British championships.

At the first Commonwealth shooting championships in Delhi, India, in 1995, Creevy and team-mate Stewart Watterson notched gold in the pairs event for the Island and Watterson went on to claim the individual gold.

Two years later in Langakwi, and one year ahead of the Kuala Lumpur Games, Creevy snapped up the individual bronze, a feat he repeated in 1999 in Auckland, New Zealand.

In the 1998 KL Games, Creevy made the final eight again, this time being joined by compatriot Dave Moore, who took the silver, Harry placing sixth.

At Bisley, the home of British shooting, in 2002, and the fifth time Creevy had represented the IoM at the Games, he again made the final, his third, ending up eighth.

With life as a publican (he’s been a stand-in at The Albert Hotel in Douglas, for more than 15 years) necessary to earn a crust as he jets throughout Europe for the World Cup events and to also maintain the targets set for the Manx Commonwealth Games team, his enthusiasm for the sport remains undiluted.

Injury hampered him in Melbourne in 2006 but he had begun to enjoy success at 300m for GB, and at the opening round of the 2010 World Cup series in Denmark, he hit 598 in the elimination round and then 599 in the final, victory eluding him under tie-break rules. There was consolation in August, however, when he helped GB win the World 300m team gold in Munich.

Alas his form wasn’t quite there for Delhi in October, but he did come close to making the final of the 50m event. His Commonwealth swansong in Glasgow didn’t end the way he had hoped, and he struggled along with all of his team-mates to make an impression.

Marie Purvis, 4th, women’s road race, Vicoria, Canada, 1994

Marie Purvis

Debut girl: Marie Purvis was the first woman to ride for the IoM in the Games and went on to carve out a brilliant career for herself

Marie Purvis, then at the height of her powers, took a tremendous fourth place in the women’s cycling road race in Victoria, Canada, in 1994.

A late starter in the sport, Marie said that at 26 she thought there was more to life than just vegetating on a sofa, and so she got an old bike out of the shed and went out riding.

After her tentative initiation at the 1990 Games, progress during the following four years was stellar.

By the time she reached Canada she had become the first Briton to win a stage of the women’s Tour de France (1993), also claiming sixth place overall, and she had represented Great Britain at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

‘I’d made the transition from local to national level very quickly, but when it came to my first Commonwealth Games (Auckland 1990) I didn’t really know how good the standard was, and I got the shock of my life…within two laps I was dropped off the back.

‘I didn’t realise how hard the next level was. But I remember thinking I have a starting point now, I know what I have to do to get there; train harder, race more. It made me more determined and within two years I’d been selected for the Barcelona Olympics.’

She made an impressive debut, attacking early and leading the race until a slow puncture followed by confusion by team helpers in the pit area saw a potential medal go begging.

Marie was in an ideal position to profit from both form and experience in Canada and she confidently told the BBC TV’s Sue Barker just prior to the Games starting that she was ‘going for gold’.

However, fate stepped in and a problem with her chain put Marie temporarily out of contention as the race wound up to an exciting climax.

The favourite, Kathy Watt of Australia, made her race-winning move as Marie struggled to overcome her mechanical difficulties, but the Manx girl regained the main pack and then set out after five girls who were chasing the legendary and diminuitive Watt.

Marie latched on to the chasers with a couple of miles to go only to discover that a lone Canadian had stolen away in pursuit of Watt, who was unstoppable. The possibility of silver had diminished and bronze was going to be difficult as Marie was surrounded by Australians and Canadians.

Tired by her efforts to force herself back into contention, Marie had no answer as Canada’s Alison Sydor took the bronze in the sprint and she had to settle for a fighting fourth.

In her swansong Olympics in Atlanta, two years after Victoria, Marie finished 11th.

Mark Kelly, 5th, 40km points race, Melbourne 2006

Mark Kelly

Melbourne magic: Mark Kelly rode into fifth place in the 40km points race after animating the early stages of the rac

Mark Kelly’s quest for Commonwealth Games glory ended in an agonising near-miss at the Melbourne velodrome.

The 25-year-old track specialist held a medal position for the vast majority of the men’s 40 kilometre (25-mile) points race. However, he was edged out in the closing stages and had to settle for fifth place after a brave bid for a podium finish.

Kelly accumulated 106 points over 160 laps of a fast and furious event that had a capacity crowd in full voice. His total was just four points off the bronze-medal position claimed by Geraint Thomas (England), with Australian Sean Finning securing the gold ahead of Hayden Roulston of New Zealand.

Mark Cavendish, targeting the 20km (12 miles) scratch event, finished 11th, while 17-year-old Jonny Bellis produced a solid ride to take 13th on his Games debut.

All three Isle of Man riders, who qualified with ease from the morning heats, featured prominently throughout the race which tests endurance and sprinting power to the maximum.

It was fast and physical, with a lot of team-work and tactical manoeuvring as the competitors fought to gain the best positions for the 16 sprints – one every 10 laps of the banked wooden track.

Kelly was among a group of four riders who made an early break to take a lap out of the rest of a top class field. The move earned him 20 points and he repeated the feat minutes later to firmly establish himself among the top three.

Bellis also showed he was prepared to mix it with the big boys by snatching third place in the second sprint of the evening while Cavendish won the dash for the line in sprint three to secure five points and put himself on the leaderboard.

Kelly, with seventh place finishes at the Kuala Lumpur (scratch race) and Manchester Games (points), was clearly a man on a mission. He always seems to rise to the big occasion and race night was no exception as he piled on the pressure at the head of the field.

Kelly’s aggressive riding kept him bang in contention as the race reached the halfway point and he actually took a slender lead at one stage. Even when home favourite Sean Fining began to stamp his authority on proceedings, Kelly dug deep to remain in the top three.

Cavendish demonstrated his awesome power by winning sprints 10 and 13 and Bellis, a member of Great Britain’s Olympic Development squad, continued to enjoy one of the rides of his young life to underline his vast potential.

But all eyes were on Kelly as the Manx supporters dared to dream of a second medal – just hours after the success of shooters Trevor Boyles and David Walton.

As the fatigue and pain started to build, the Island rider tenaciously maintained his grip on third spot. Unfortunately he was being shadowed by Kiwi star Roulston and Geraint Thomas of Wales who both came on strong towards the end of a gruelling race.

Kelly, several times second in British junior championships to 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, summoned up one last push and clinched two points in the final sprint – but it was not enough and he missed out on a medal by the slenderest of margins.

Mark Christian, 4th, 20km scratch race, Glasgow 2014

Mark Christian, anxious to make up for his disqualification in the points race the previous day and hopefully become the first Manx athlete to win two medals, - he notched bronze in the points in Delhi - came close to his target in the 20km Scratch race.

He was one of four men to gain a lap on the rest of the field in the 80-lap race, the others being Remi Pelletier of Canada, Shane Archibold of New Zealand and Glenn O'Shea of Australia, a member of the World Championship winning team pursuit squad.

40km points silver medallist Peter Kennaugh tried hard to bridge the gap to his team-mate, but was unable to do so.

The outcome of the event came down to the final 250m lap: Christian was at the rear of the quartet and overtook Pelletier going into the 45 degree banking. With 60 metres to go he was still in the bronze medal position, but the strong French Canadian outsprinted him for the medal.

Archibold, ninth in the points race, got the verdict from O’Shea.

Joe Kelly won the tussle between the lapped riders for fifth place, while Kennaugh, who had worked hard to assist his team-mates in the mid-stages, rolled over the line in 13th place.

Of his team-mate Kennaugh, with whom he has a history of success at home and abroad in this type of racing, Mark said: ‘Peter did a great job for me. I was confident I was going to get a medal as soon as I gained a lap, but my legs tied up at the end.

‘It was good to get some advice from Mark Cavendish last night (via Twitter).’

A selfless Kennaugh remarked: ‘Mark just missed out on a medal – no-one deserves it more than him’.

Mark Christian 20km sprint
So near yet so far: Mark Christian (fourth) is passed by Remi Pelletier of Canada who takes the bronze medal in the 20km scratch race behind Glenn O’Shea (Australia) and gold medal winner Shane Archibold (NZ). Fifth place went to the IoM’s Joe Kelly, on the outside of the Canadian