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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 02:01 GMT
Team aims to end 20 years of hurt
By Paul Burnell
BBC News

Olivia Rawlinson
Olivia Rawlinson, 13, is the island's youngest competitor
The 28-strong Manx team for the Commonwealth Games strides out at Wednesday's opening ceremony in Melbourne hoping to end its gold medal drought.

One of the games' smallest teams believes the omens are good - the last two times the event took place in a year ending with the figure six, an Isle of Man competitor won gold.

The Isle of Man has competed in every Commonwealth Games since its first appearance at the Cardiff Games in 1958, when Stuart Slack took home a cycling bronze in the men's 120-mile road race.

But it was Peter Buckley who won the island's first gold in the same event at Kingston, Jamaica in 1966. His time of five hours, seven minutes, 52.5 seconds is the only games record the island holds.

Twenty years later Nigel Kelly took gold in Edinburgh in the shooting individual men's skeet.

Graham Jones
On a good day Harry Creavy - who is our flag bearer - could do it in the shooting
Graham Jones, Commonwealth Games Association of the Isle of Man

So in which areas does Graham Jones, General Secretary of the island's Commonwealth Games Association, see the team ending 20 years of hurt?

"It's possible in bowls, cycling and shooting," he said.

"On a good day Harry Creavy - who is our flag bearer - could do it in the shooting. We think it's his year."

Bowlers Maureen Payne and Pauline Kelly could also figure in the medals.

Four years ago in Manchester Pauline, 66, and Maureen, 62, were the only team the all conquering New Zealand could not beat.

Pauline and Maureen were ahead of the eventual gold medallists when rain stopped play.

Schoolgirl star

They finally drew the match.

One Manx competitor under the spotlight immediately will be schoolgirl Olivia Rawlinson, 13, who will be taking place in one of the first events of the games - the women's 200m freestyle.

The Ramsey Grammar School pupil is even packing her school books as she takes on the some the biggest names in aquatics.

"It's pretty special," said Olivia who is planning to compete in several backstroke, freestyle and medley events.

"I haven't had much time to think about it. I'm just hoping to beat my personal bests."


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