“Two thumbs up” after Team Canada site visit to Isle of Man

“It’s all good, really good.”

That’s the main message from senior Team Canada officials following a 3-day site visit to the Isle of Man, which will host the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games this September.

“The organization and the facilities are top notch, there’s no question,” reported Jim Bradley, Team Canada’s Chef de Mission, whose resume includes mission staff experience at five previous Commonwealth Games. “But what impressed me most were the know-how and the warmth of the people. They were so hospitable and there wasn’t a question we asked that they weren’t able to answer right away.”

Bradley was accompanied by Commonwealth Games Canada’s (CGC) Director of Sport, Scott Stevenson, who came away with a high degree of confidence about the planning and preparation that has gone into these Games.

“They’re ready to host, absolutely,” concluded Stevenson, who also oversaw Canada’s preparations for last year’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. “Canadian athletes and coaches are going to be really impressed with the facilities and the compact nature of these Games. You can walk to get just about anywhere.”

Stevenson added that the Games provide valuable opportunities for national sport organizations to test the effectiveness of youth development programs. “From a long-term athlete development perspective, the Youth Games are about learning how to compete in an international multi-sport environment. We’re heading over there with every intention of coming back with medals, but the real value is in the experience.”


Mathieu Marineau

Stevenson cited the example of Mathieu Marineau , a gold medalist in weightlifting at the 2008 Youth Games in Pune, India, who returned to that country just two years later to medal at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.



The 2011 edition of the Youth Games will feature first-rate facilities. An Athletes’ Village site has been created along a picturesque, three-kilometre promenade facing the waterfront of Douglas, Isle of Man’s capital city. Team Canada’s hotel will feature an Athletes’ Lounge equipped with TV, movies, games, free Wi-Fi, and an information kiosk promoting CGC’s sport for development programs throughout the Commonwealth.

Canadian coaches will also have their own dedicated space in the hotel for working, conferring with colleagues, or winding down after a long day of training or competition.

“The Isle of Man is a fascinating place,” added Bradley. “It has a population of only 80,000 people and is one of the smallest nations in the Commonwealth. Yet, it’s steeped in history and hosts one of the most famous motorcycle races in the world. The Manx people are definitely passionate about sport!”

The so-called “TT Race” is an annual event started more than a century ago that now brings some 40,000 visitors to the Isle of Man to witness riders racing around narrow island roadways at speeds in excess of 300 kilometres per hour. Click here for a hair-raising TT tour of the island.


Mark Cavendish, the "Manx Missile"

Cycling is also hugely popular on the Isle of Man, the birthplace of the world’s fastest sprint cyclist. Mark Cavendish, the “Manx Missile,” won five stages of this year’s Tour de France.

Situated in the middle of the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man is about one-tenth the size of Prince Edward Island, covering less than 600 square kilometres. Legend has it the country was named after a Celtic sea god. Among the Isle of Man’s most famous inhabitants are the tail-less Manx cats who’ve lived on the island for centuries.

Residents retain many quaint traditions and tell hair-raising tales about the unfortunate few who forgot to say “Hello” to the Manx fairies, rumoured to inhabit several spots around the island!

“Obviously, we’re going to Isle of Man for the competition, but I think members of Team Canada will also thoroughly enjoy a terrific cultural program,” said Stevenson. “It should leave a lasting positive impression on our young athletes.”

To set the stage for the Closing Ceremonies, Games organizers will host a Cultural Day in Castletown, the historic capital of the Isle of Man. Teams will be transported by traditional steam trains to one of the best preserved medieval castles in the British Isles.

“And I can’t wait to see the Tin Bath championship – another great Isle of Man tradition,” added Bradley. “Every nation will enter one competitor in what promises to be a truly unique race – I’m not sure we’ve seen anything like this in Canada!”

Over the three days of competition from September 9th through the 11th, Canadian athletes will compete in a total of six sports: Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Cycling, Men’s Gymnastics and Rugby Sevens. Detailed information for athletes, coaches and national sport organizations can be found on Zeus . Results, images and video will be updated throughout the Games at www.commonwealthgames.ca.

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