Games athletes are very welcome

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THE much anticipated Commonwealth Youth Games swings into town this weekend, with a festival atmosphere assured as young athletes from around the world compete in games and events around Douglas.

The three main days of competition: today (Friday) Saturday and Sunday, are each action-packed. At the National Sports Centre, swimming has a heats session from 9am and finals from around 5.30pm each day. Meanwhile, in the sports halls, the badminton qualifiers run from 10.45am to 8pm today, knock outs from 10am to 6pm on Saturday and the finals are from 11am to 5pm on Sunday.

WELCOME: Tosha the cat greets incoming athletes

WELCOME: Tosha the cat greets incoming athletes

Athletics is particularly busy, with heats and finals in 17 running, throwing and jumping events over two sessions a day: from 11.30am to 2.15pm and 4pm to 6.30pm today, from 11am to 2pm and 4pm to 6.30pm on Saturday, and from midday to 1.15pm, then 3.15pm to 6pm on Sunday.

A short hop over the River Glass from the NSC, at the smartened Bowl Stadium, eight nations will battle in the rugby sevens tournament. The group games are from 4.20pm-9pm Saturday and the knock out stages and finals 3.50pm to 9pm on Sunday.

Next door, at the Ellan Vannin Gymnastics Centre, the men’s competitions start from 2pm each day, with the artistic team final today, individual all-around final Saturday, and individual apparatus final on Sunday. This schedule is mirrored exactly for the women’s events up at Manx Gymnastics Centre of Excellence on Glencrutchery Road.

Over at the Villa Marina, the squared-ring is already up and in use as the preliminary boxing bouts got under way on Thursday. The quarter-finals are over two sessions today from midday to 4pm and 5pm to 9pm, the semi-finals are on Saturday 5pm-9pm, with the finals from 5pm to 9pm on Sunday. The Isle of Man is represented by light-welterweight Eddie Rennie.

The cycling is split into three events over three days. First up is today’s time trial, a sprint along the sea-front starting at the War Memorial on Douglas promenade at 6.15pm. Saturday is the road race, a circuit which takes in Abbeylands and Cronk-ny-Mona, with the men setting off from the Grandstand at 10.15am and the women at 3pm. Sunday’s criterium will be fast and furious laps within a time limit of a short loop along Harris Promenade and up Broadway from 2.15-4.15pm.

Spectator entry times for all sports are from 30 minutes prior to start time. Dame Kelly Holmes, the 2004 double gold Olympic medal-winning runner tops an impressive list of Olympic and Commonwealth medal- winning athletes who will be visiting the Isle of Man during the games, including fellow Athens Gold medalist Tonique Williams-Darling from the Bahamas, gymnast Beth Tweddle, Olympic silver medalist Alan Pascoe, and Commonwealth gold medalist swimmer Sarah Price.

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