After almost missing the games entirely, team St Helena brought home five medals - all for shooting - during the 2017 NatWest Island Games in Gotland, Sweden.
June 30 was the final day of competition for the seven-day biennial Island Games. This was St Helena’s most successful medal haul ever.
But the team almost didn’t make the games after missing its flight from Stockholm to the Swedish island of Gotland. When the team flew into Stockholm from Dubai June 21, the airport’s gates were busy and security took a while to clear the team’s rifles. The next available flight to Gotland was five days later - after the games would have started. Luckily, the St Helenian team and its managers managed to book last-minute ferry tickets.
On June 22, the team made it to Gotland - and had great success during the games.
“St Helena has gone from being known as the Island that took the longest to get to the Games, to the Island that has sharpshooters and made the epic journey to win medals,” team St Helena’s Chef de Mission, Damien O’Bey, said in an Ambassador newsletter.
The eight St Helenian athletes who journeyed to Gotland are now on their way home with two gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals.
Madolyn Andrews, Jodie Scipio-Constantine, Carlos Yon and Simon Henry competed in shooting events, Malcolm Williams and Darren Henry competed in golf, Colby Thomas competed in swimming and Sunna Jan Thomas competed in track.
Simon Henry, who won the first-ever gold for St Helena in the 2013 Bermuda Games, won a gold for the men’s NSRA 100-yard Prone Rifle event.
Simon Henry also won a gold for the 50m 3-Position Smallbore Rifle event.
Andrews was awarded a silver medal in the women’s ISSF 50m 3-Position Smallbore Rifle event.
On the same day, Andrews and Scipio-Constantine were awarded a bronze medal in the women’s ISSF 50m Prone Smallbore Rifle event.
The pair was also awarded a bronze for the women’s NSRA 100-yard Prone Rifle event.
Additionally, Simon Henry and his shooting partner, Carlos Yon, finished second in the 50m 3-Position Smallbore Rifle Team event. They
were expected to win a silver medal, but weren't awarded with one because too few teams entered the event.
The team’s achievements weren’t just winning medals on the shooting range.
Colby Thomas shaved nearly five seconds off his personal best in the 50m freestyle swimming event.
Sunna Jan Thomas placed fifth in the third heat of the 100m women’s track event - and also became friends with up-and-coming Cayman Islands sprinter, Jamal Walton, who has broken Usain Bolt’s under-23 400m record.
Williams placed 51st, and Darren Henry 57th, in the men’s individual golf event.
Scipio-Constantine placed eighth in the women’s 50m Prone Smallbore Rifle event, and on June 27 became the first Saint female to participate in an Island Games air rifle event (women’s ISSF 10m Air Rifle).
Chef de Mission Damien O’Bey featured on the cover of Gotland newspaper Gotlands Allehanda June 27.
The awards ceremony June 30 lasted from 7pm to 2am. St Helena placed 17th in the Island Games.
Andrews, Scipio-Constantine, Yon, Colby Thomas and Sunna Jan Thomas left St Helena on the RMS June 6, and are expected back July 9; Simon Henry, Williams and Darren Henry are now headed back to the UK, where they joined the team on the way to the games.
The team are now on their way back to St Helena via Stockholm, Dubai and Cape Town to reach the RMS, which departs July 11.