IT is the world’s biggest gathering of island athletes and for one particular Scots family it will be a triple celebration as three siblings all prepare to take part.

Athletes from Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are preparing to participate in the week-long NatWest International Islands Games which are being held this year in Gotland, Sweden’s largest island, starting on June 24.

But excitement is particularly high in the Bain household in Lerwick, Shetland as two brothers and their sister prepare to make the trip.

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Andrew Bain, 18, will represent Shetland at golf, his 16-year-old sister Katie is in the islands’ swimming team and Stuart, 15, will be entering the high jump and relay events, and possibly the 100m.

Mother Alison, 50, has just sat her swimming referee’s exams and should be a pool-side official while their father Colin, 51 will be there as a spectator.

Mrs Bain said: “I believe we are the first family to go with three children doing different disciplines. We are absolutely delighted for the kids, but are just working out which organ we will have to sell to pay for it all.”

But the three teams from Scotland have raised the necessary money since the last gathering in Jersey in 2015. Sponsors have been brought on board and charter planes booked for the trip to Visby airport in Gotland.

The biennial international sporting event was established in the Isle of Man in 1985 by the International Island Games Association (IGA) for athletes from island communities with a population of fewer than 125,000.

This includes what is classed as the world’s largest island – Greenland. Curiously one of the founding members, Gibraltar, is a headland rather than an island and more populous locations are also now permitted.


Iain “GG” Campbell, Western Isles Council’s Sports Development Services Manager, said: “This will be our seventh games. The main reason for us applying for membership during 2003 was to assist with the development of sport in the Western Isles. We think of the games more in these terms.

“As an example Kara Hanlon (Stornoway) went to her first islands games in Isle of Wight in 2011 as a 15-year-old and went on to become part of Scottish swimming’s ‘gold squad’ and attended Commonwealth Games trials. She won her first NatWest Island Games medals at the Jersey Games in 2015.

“Kerry Macphee from South Uist became the first female from the Western Isles to compete for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games when she competed in mountain biking in Glasgow 2014. Eve Carrington (Lewis) was our first medallist when she won bronze in the high jump at our first games in Shetland 2005. “ He said they had inspired younger athletes “This year we will have 17 debutants and 12 who are still in school.”

It is a similar story further north according to Karen Woods, chairwoman of Shetland Island Games Association, which hosted the games in 2005, the first and only Scottish venue to date.

She said this year’s team was a mixture of old hands: past medal winners including Emma Leask (athlete) who had won numerous track medals over four games, Billy Finnie (archer), Lynsey Henderson (triathlete) and Felix Gifford (swimmer); and new younger entrants.

She said that as well as the Bains “there are husband and wife teams in archery and cycling; mother and daughter in cycling and various brother and sisters competing”.

Robbie Fraser, chairman of Orkney Island Games Association, said: “It’s always a trip into the unknown when you head to an Island Games. You’re never sure who will turn up. There will be many athletes competing at Commonwealth Games level there so making a final in athletics or swimming is a real achievement, and usually means having to run or swim faster than anyone from Orkney has ever done.”

He said the Orkney football team had a difficult draw facing both Jersey (population 100,000 plus) and Menorca (94,000) in the group stages. But he added: “They’ve had a good season it the North Caledonian League finishing runners up.”

He said: “We’ll have a strong triathlon team while our shooters are always in the mix for medals as are our archers. In Jersey the athletics team managed to win medals – so the young team will be looking to build on that.”