Island Games 2017: Jersey and Guernsey stars to watch in Gotland

Flora Keites, Dan Halksworth and Miles Munro
Flora Keites, Dan Halksworth and Miles Munro are among the medallists from the 2015 Island Games hoping for more success in Gotland

The 2017 Island Games begins on the Scandinavian island of Gotland this weekend, with more than 2,300 competitors expected from 23 different islands around the world.

In terms of numbers of participants, it will be one of the biggest sporting events to take place this summer.

The multi-sport Games are held every two years and feature 14 different sports, including golf, athletics, swimming and shooting.

BBC Sport profiles seven Channel Island sportsmen and women who will be hoping to claim gold.

Flora Keites

Teenage golfer Keites ended Jersey's 46-year wait for a winner of the Hampshire Junior Girls Championship title in 2016.

The Royal Jersey player was also winner of the Island Ladies Strokeplay championship, taking the 36-hole event by two strokes.

Keites was runner-up at the last Island Games, when she was also part of the women's squad that won the overall team event.

"The ladies golf team are bidding for team gold again. It's definitely doable and on a personal level I'm looking for individual gold," the 17-year-old told BBC Radio Jersey.

"One of the courses, Visby, is ranked top five in the whole of Sweden and I've heard it has a lot of similarities to Royal Jersey where I play, so that will stand me in good stead hopefully."

Ross Allen

Ross Allen
Prolific striker Ross Allen returned from travelling towards the end of the season

Allen returned from travelling in March and forced his way back into the Guernsey FC squad for the latter part of the season, as they avoided relegation from Isthmian League Division One South.

The prolific striker netted in the Muratti final victory over Jersey in May, and is likely to be Guernsey's main man up front as they try to retain their football title.

Allen scored one of the goals as they beat the Isle of Man 3-0 in the 2015 final in Jersey.

Miles Munro

Munro won three golds, two silvers and a bronze at the 2015 Games and narrowly missed out on a spot representing Great Britain at the Rio Olympics.

The 20-year-old Youth Olympic relay champion will be among the big medal hopes for the Sarnians in the pool alongside Tom Hollingsworth, who won 10 medals in Jersey last time.

Munro is listed to race in five relay events and three solo events, including the 50m freestyle.

Megan Wood

Jersey get their first football gold
Wood will be keen to follow in the footsteps of her gold medal-winning teammates

Jersey's women's footballers made history at the last Games by winning gold for the first time, but have had their preparations disrupted this time by the resignation of manager Simon Petulla and his popular coaching team.

While a lot of the squad remain, 16-year-old left winger Wood is an exciting addition and could help fire the side to the latter stages of the tournament again, despite what is likely to be a strong showing from the Scandinavian islands.

Wood only became old enough to play senior football during last season, and impressed the selectors with her early performances for club side St Paul's.

Without Cat Andrade, she may need to provide the magic spark if Jersey are to be successful.

Dan Halksworth

Halksworth will be defending his triathlon title, but will also represent Jersey in cycling.

It is the fourth sport in which the 31-year-old Jerseyman has competed at Island Games level, after previously winning eight golds as a swimmer and entering the 10,000m in athletics in 2015.

The triathlon in Visby is on the opening day of competition, clearing the way for Halksworth to cycle in the road race, the time trial and the criterium later in the week.

Stuart Parker

Stuart Parker
Stuart Parker won singles bronze at the 2015 Games on home turf in Jersey

Parker is a member of Jersey's eight-strong tennis squad, and the number two seed will be hopeful of making the podium for the second Games in a row.

With Jersey's top-ranked professional Scott Clayton missing Gotland to concentrate on the UK grass-court season and Wimbledon qualification, and James Connelly also unavailable, Parker is likely to be their top performer.

The 19-year-old trains full-time in France, where he has represented St Malo for the past few years, and his title chances are also boosted by the news that reigning champion Billy Harris, of the Isle of Man, is not competing.

"For us as a team I think we'll be looking to get close to what we did two years ago. I think we got nine medals, so we're looking to try and equal that," Parker said.

"I quite enjoy pressure - I feel the pressure more when I'm not playing. When I step onto court I feel a lot better, a lot more relaxed."

Hannah Lesbirel

Lesbirel recently became the first Guernsey women to record a 200m time under 25 seconds.

She smashed a 23-year-old island record to clock 24.95 seconds at Footes Lane, well outside the existing Island Games record but fast enough to have won gold in two of the past four Games.

Lesbirel's nearest rival could be team-mate Indi Gallagher, who was within two tenths of her time at Guernsey's pre-Games trials.

Who won't be there..?

Cameron Chalmers
Cameron Chalmers must first come through trials to clinch a place at the World Championships

While the Channel Islands will, without doubt, bring home plenty of medals, a whole string of top performers have decided to miss the Games.

And while it will give new faces a chance to shine, notable absentees mean the Games will have a different feel to two years ago.

Just days before the Games, 400m runner Cameron Chalmers, a leading Guernsey gold medal hopeful, pulled out to concentrate on securing a place at the World Championships in London, where global stars Usain Bolt and Mo Farah will finish their track careers.

Jersey's Kim Ashton, along with Guernsey duo James McLaughlin and Tobyn Horton, will be absent from the cycling, while Guernsey's Aimee Ponte, who won golf gold in 2015, will not be in Gotland to defend her title.

British international archer Lucy O'Sullivan was concerned about the cost of competing, and has other priorities, while brother and sister Zane and Shadine Duquemin, who both won athletics gold at the last Games, will also be missing.

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