PERHAPS one of the trickiest events for Team Isle of Wight athletes heading to the Island Games 2023 in Guernsey is the mighty triathlon.

This discipline involves three events, over courses that change depending on where you are, which the team says can be 'unpredictable.'

A mixed of young inexperienced athletes and some more experienced team members are preparing to take on the advantageous home competitors, from Jersey and Guernsey.

The inter-island competition runs from June 8-14.

The team, made up of athletes from mainly the Isle of Wight Triathlon Club and Wight Tri, comprises:

  • The men — Jake Brougham, Thomas Horton, Trevor McAlister, Gary Means, Dean Pike and Dan Shortman.
  • The women — Jan Fletcher, Charis Jones, Elizabeth Steward and Lottie Van der Helstraete.

The team manager, Liz Dunlop, seemed content with the preparations, with the squad are following their own individual training plans with their coaches, followed by a super-sprint triathlon event, held at Yaverland on Wednesday.

Liz, a leading veteran sprint triathlete, has vast experience for her team to draw upon.

She has raced triathlon in the Isle of Man (2001) and Guernsey (2003), been team manager for Jersey (2015) and Gibraltar (2019) and was both manager and participant in Gotland (2017).

 "I've followed the squad's progress and kept in touch regularly, with all competing in triathlon races over the past two months to get themselves race fit," Liz explained.

There are others in the squad with previous Games experience, including Jan Fletcher, Liz Steward and Dean Pike.

"Although Jan was never truly close to a medal in her previous Games, this time I do think she could be top five. She has made huge progress since Gibraltar," said Liz.

The rest are all 'newbies', with several youngsters in the squad this time, with one eye on future Island Games's — Henry Morgan, 17, Lottie Van Der Helstraete, 18, and Thomas Horton (19).

"I have encouraged them to go out and give it their all — but most of all, experience the thrill of being part of an international event and learn from the more experienced triathletes in the team," Liz adds.

Among the newbies is Gary Means, a GB age group triathlete who is used to international competitions — but who has never represented the Isle of Wight at the Island Games before.

"My best advice to all of the triathletes is to treat it like any other event. I know pressure can build up prior to a big event, but if all the training has been done, it’s about going out there and giving your all — but still enjoying it," said Liz. 

"I will put no pressure on any of the athletes — and will be so happy to see them all finishing safe and well. 

I'll ensure they're adequately prepared on the run-up to race day, as well as help them relax on race day — ensuring they can warm up and fuel well throughout the event. 

"I think we can be in with a medal chance in the team relay. I have a few fast youngsters, as well as experienced triathletes and super runners in my squad, who could just surprise us all on the day." 

Liz remembers fondly her experience of past Island Games

"Having competed in age group European and world triathlon championships since 1997 for team GB, and known fantastic team bonding and atmosphere competing on the international stage," she says.

"However I still feel the atmosphere throughout the entire Island Games events, with all the athletes from all different sports and different islands mixing together, brings a euphoria you cannot beat or bottle up. 

"I hope they can bring their best performance on the day of the events."