BACK in the day when sports editors used to travel to far flung parts with Team Isle of Wight, they came back with memories of the Island Games as lasting as those of the athletes representing the Isle of Wight have — all brilliantly articulated in print in the County Press.

My most recent predecessors — Matt White, Clare Newman and John Hamon — share some of their great memories as the team head out Guernsey to create some more. 

Matt White, followed Team Isle of Wight at two Island Games — in Gotland, Sweden, and in Gibraltar two years later in 2019, after he left the County Press to run the Isle of Wight Council's communications team. 

"As a proud Islander, having the chance to report on the Island Games will always be one of my career highlights," he said. 


"Both occasions were incredibly special. The togetherness of everyone is the best part of attending the games. 

"From the first minute to the last, everyone shares the common goal of doing their absolute best for themselves and the Island. 

"The support for each other is infectious and creates a very special bond that makes the whole experience feel unique. 

"I was lucky enough to venture around all the sports to watch everyone compete. As I watched medal-winning moments, it was impossible not to get swept up in the adrenaline rush.  

"When Charlie Metcalfe entered the athletics stadium in Gibraltar seemingly miles ahead of everyone, it was really special. 


"Charlie had narrowly missed out on a medal in Gotland and I remember how disappointed she was, so to see her take gold second time around was extra rewarding. 

"I loved watching all the sports but there were some stand-out moments. 

"In Gotland, watching our men’s basketball team play in the most amazing venue, used by the Swedish national team. It felt like it was fit for the Olympics and to see our squad play there against some of the best Island nations in the world was amazing. 

"The pool was always equally electric and exciting to watch our swimmers in action. 

"There are so many sporting highlights to mention — and not all of them were because of victories. 

"For some, just getting to the games to compete, was their medal, or achieving a PB n that stage was as good as winning gold.  

"For our Island sports stars — and for me as a local sports journalist — it was a privilege to be part of it.

"In Gotland, I roomed with the now-team chair, Kevin Winchcombe, which gave me a fantastic insight into all the planning and preparation that goes into it."

Between 2008 and 2016, Clare Newman accompanied Team Isle of Wight to three Island Games — and the one on home turf in 2011.

On the Finnish island of Aland in 2009, it was deep into an Arctic summer where the sun barely set.

"Journalists were put up in the only major hotel of Mariehamn, that had blackout curtains — a godsend when the athletics finished at 10pm and the hot sun was still on your back," said Clare. 

"Getting around was by bus, though I was able to hitch a ride with one of the team managers. 

"It was a real baptism of fire, trying to make sure I was in the right places at the right time to witness a medal being won, then returning to the hotel to write everything up until the early hours. 

"Wake up, eat and repeat! 

"The sport was amazing, the location gorgeous and the food, expensive. Oh, and dear Ray Scovell and his infamous pink bike!"

Two years later and the Isle of Wight was host, "and boy, did we host," adds Clare.

"From the massive opening ceremony in Ryde and the biggest Isle of Wight team ever assembled, it was a very big deal.

"Medals were flying in everywhere. Even though I had my own car, I couldn’t keep up at times. No amount of planning could cover it! 

"More than anything I remember the sheer level of support Islanders gave to the event. Everywhere I went, there were crowds, enjoying the sport and the sunshine. 

"Oh, and the very long sleep I needed at the end!"

The climates, growing progressively warmer, led Clare to the dream job of covering the games in Bermuda.

"I effectively won the lottery in 2013 and got to travel with a much smaller team, where we were represented in golf, badminton, sailing, swimming and shooting.

"Only two of the five sports were in the capital, Hamilton. The rest, in very remote outposts. However, I was able to see everything, including witnessing the incredible performances by our golf teams at the stunning Port Royal Golf Course. 

"With several acclimatisation days before the competition as well, I got to see all Bermuda had to offer. 

"It was without doubt the best week of my career — and I’ll forever be grateful to Team Isle of Wight for allowing me to join them."

Jersey, in 2015, proved to be the most logistically tricky one of them all. 

"We had a big team in almost all the sports timetabled and, in the end, I had to hire a car, as the buses weren’t working for my busy schedule! 

"However, the team all stayed in the same hotel, which was great. I could pick up loads of stories at the end of the day.

"There was practically a medal story every day for the shooting team, which in turn meant more content to send back to the office. 

"At the closing ceremony, I think I knew it would be my final games, and that was OK. I’d done four — and that was lucky enough."

In retirement now, living in Portsmouth, John Hamon joined the County Press in 1989 and first became aware of the Island Games two years later, when it was held at Aland — receiving reports from various managers of the different sports.

In 1993, it was the Isle of Wight's turn to host it.

"We really took to the competition, with good turn-outs for all the sports, held all over the Island," said John. 

"Although a little sceptical, the locals definitely enjoyed it and it was well supported.

"I went on to cover another five Island Games — in Gibraltar (1995), Jersey (1997), Isle of Man (2001), Shetland (2005) and Rhodes (2007), my final one."

John, like most British, are obsessed by the weather.

"By far the hottest place was Gibraltar while the coldest was definitely Shetland," he said. 

"While waiting for the opening ceremony in Gibraltar, everyone was struggling to find any shade at the stadium, alongside the only airport’s main runway at 7pm!

"While the opening at Shetland had to be abandoned when a massive downpour halted proceedings. 

"While the Island had temperatures in the late 20Cs, the Shetland barely reached double figures for the week — and it was in July!"

John also had great memories of Isle of Wight sportsmen and women at the Island Games.

"The standard of competition over the years was amazing, with some outstanding displays — particularly from the Isle of Wight competitors.

"The stand-out was athlete Kelly Sotherton, who won an incredible six gold medals at the 1997 games in Jersey, in the track and field events. 

"It was no surprise when Kelly went on the represent Great Britain and win medals at Olympic Games, World Championships, world indoor and Commonwealth Games.

"Mind you, not far behind Kelly, was fellow Island athlete Jenny Holden, who returned with four golds in a brilliant performance on the track and field events.

"Another magnificent performance, again in 1997, came from Darren Mew in the swimming pool. 

"Totland's GB international simply smashed Island Games records every time he swam.

"He set new bests in his two individual events in qualifying — and in the final itself of the 50m and 100m breaststroke. 

"But there were so many other fine performances, too many to mention.

"While it was hard work covering all the sports, there were also some light moments — like, my initiation when we travelled for the first time to Gibraltar.

"The accommodation in Gib was basic to say the least, with all competitors, management and press housed in old army barracks, living out of suitcases and with about ten to a dorm. 

"But, all the islands were based there and the atmosphere was brilliant.

"On the final day, as we were about to leave and travel to the border with Spain, to catch our return flight from Malaga, my passport mysteriously went missing. 

"Many athletes, particularly the judo players, went through the dustbins thinking I had thrown it away by mistake.

"Amazingly, as we were about to leave, the passport suddenly reappeared in my bag, much to the delight of everyone, including the windsurfers, who I suspected all along were responsible for it being mislaid!

"It produced about the biggest cheer of the competition.

"I was privileged to experience some great sporting moments and meet many dedicated sports people — competing, running and managing the different events."