Nicola Canning and Nick Groocock, the Island Games Athletics team managers, are pleased to announce the first group of athletes selected to represent the Isle of Wight at next summer’s Island Games in Guernsey. There are a few positions in the team to be filled over the next few months before the team is complete; making it the largest team the Isle of Wight has ever taken to an “away games.”
They will be supported by distance coach Paul Simpson, who will be busy with an extensive middle and long-distance group to look after. Athletes, Holly Whitter and Holly Newton, will be providing physio and sports massages for the team whilst they are resting.
Portsmouth-based athlete, Gavin Bodrell, will once again lead the charge in the 100m and 200m sprints, after a great season for his local club.
Tristan Cooper will be contesting the 10000m, he first competed in the 1993 Games in the 800m, where he placed 6th. In Gotland 1999, he won silver in the 800m and was edged out of the medals by placing 4th in a thrilling 1500m.
Daniel Eckersley will be once again competing in the 3000m steeplechase, where he is the defending champion having won the event twice before in 2017, and 2019.
Andy Frost, now living in Sweden, is the Isle of Wight’s multiple hammer-winning athlete, with an impressive 8 gold medals to his name. He was edged out to silver in 2017, with no hammer in Gibraltar. Andy’s first chance to regain his title will be this coming summer.
Henry McLuckie is one of the most exciting young middle-distance runners in the country at the moment. His primary objective this coming season will be the U23 European Championships, as such we won’t know until nearer the time whether he will be able to attend the Games should he have International duties.
Tom Newnham was a very exciting junior who competed in two World Island Youth Games, winning a medal in the steeplechase in 2012 against much older athletes. He left the sport due to injuries for a number of years, returning last year to a full season of road races. Part of an exciting half marathon squad.
Will Newnham, older brother of Tom, also cut his teeth in the World Island Youth Games, winning gold for the 1500m in Mallorca in 2009. He just missed out on a medal the same year in the Island Games in Aland with a 4th place in the steeplechase. He will be joining Tom in the half marathon.
Jacob Patey is a young hurdler who has made a seamless transition to the higher, more challenging, adult barriers. He ranks nationally in the top 10 for his age, over the full height of 110m this season. Jacob is also a competent 400m hurdler.
Archie Pearson who’s a really exciting junior prospect is being selected as part of the development squad within the team. Despite his tender years, he will no doubt hold his own in his first Island Games with hopefully many more to come.
Nick Percy, is the United Kingdoms’ number 2 discus thrower. Nick completed the triple this year, qualifying and competing in the European, Commonwealth and World Championships. He’s set new personal bests this year as well ranking him 10th on the all time UK list. This coming year he hopes to finally get to an Island Games, having done World Island Youth Games twice in Mallorca and then in the Azores where he won two gold and one silver medal. Since Nick has been unable to get to the Senior Island Games because of higher-level commitments, this coming year looks like his best chance to finally get there! Something he is personally looking forward to.
Guernsey will be Simon Pilcher’s first games. Simon is another representative from the Ryde Harriers Club and he will be running 10000m on the track. Although he’s a very experienced road runner, this will be his first season doing the longer race on the track.
Benjamin Taylor was born and grew up on the Isle of Wight, Ben was brought to the attention of the team managers with his win in the Liverpool Half Marathon earlier this year. He will complete the half marathon for Team for the Isle of Wight. The first time the Island has had a full Men’s Team for an away games and is looking very competitive.
Frankie Witty is a talented high hurdler, who has won the Hampshire Championships for the last two years. Coached by Janice Bartlett who was the Isle of Wight team manager at the inaugural Island Games in the Isle of Man in 1985, Frankie trains alongside his training partner, Jacob Patey.
This will be Eden Canning’s second games competing in sprint hurdles. In Gibraltar she was placed 5th, this season she lowered her personal best by over a second and that was into a decent headwind. Eden has just started studying at Bath University, which has a great sporting history.
Wallis Canning was denied being able to compete in the last Games in Gibraltar due to no hammer facilities. Wallis will be hoping to better her bronze medals which she won in both Jersey, in 2015 and Gotland, in 2017. Wallis Canning is part of the trio alongside Nick Percy and Andy Frost and has been coached as a junior by Ray Scovell.
Helen Davis, who is a PE teacher, has competed in many Games winning medals in both javelin and sprints, of which she has won gold medals in both. She has also picked up two silver and four bronze medals over the years. Her last Games was in 2015, in Jersey where she was placed 4th in javelin. She will be once again be competing for a medal in that event in the coming Guernsey games.
Emily Fry, a stalwart of Island Games, won her first silver medal behind Kelly Sotherton in Jersey in 1997. She has won eight Games medals including gold in the 4x100m in 2001. Emily is still a great sprinter but is looking forward to the long jump in particular, where she continues to have great success as a master.
Jessica Heng is a young sprinter who will contest her first Games over the challenging 400m sprint. She is a part of the development group of athletes looking to gain experience and inspiration from competing at this level.
Naomi Holdsworth is a talented all-round athlete, with top 20 UK rankings in discus over the last two years and competing well at English Schools Championships. This will be her first Games. The Isle of Wight has a strong tradition also in this event.
Amy Kelland was born and grew up on the Isle of Wight. She is a graduate of Bath University. Previously she had success as a 400m runner and has recently turned to longer distance and road racing. She is selected initially for the 5000m but with places yet undecided in the half marathon. She raced recently in Manchester, where she was placed 23rd.
Maisey Kent a talented middle-distance athlete, small in stature but known for her grittiness in racing which has seen year-on-year improvement, particularly in her preferred 800m. She recently got a new personal best in the Inter-Counties match representing Hampshire.
Ellie Lovett is the United Kingdoms’ number 2, U20 discus thrower. Now a student at Swansea University. This year saw her throw new personal bests on more than one occasion. In Gibraltar 2019, at just 16 she was 5th in the Island Games. Now capable of throwing over 10m further she is an exciting prospect for success.
Charlie Metcalfe winner of the Games half marathon and an integral part of the Team also won silver in the event. Over the three years Charlie has kept up a high standard and she will compete in the event in an attempt to retain her title. She will lead a great team of three athletes, the others of which are yet to be decided.
Holly Newton won bronze in 2011, coming in the 4x400m relay. Since then Holly has turned her attention to road running where she continues to improve. Her sub 3-hour time in the London Marathon is a testament to that. For now, she has been selected for 10000m but again hopes to secure a place in the half marathon team.
Holly Whitter is a 100m sprinter who will be competing in her second Games. Disappointment in the relay last time as the team lost out on a place in the final as the team were impeded on the final changeover. This coming year it is hoped the team will be able to progress to the final and see where that may lead.