Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Commonwealth Youth Games: St Helena starts epic journey

St Helena Image copyright bbc
Image caption Saint Helena is one of the most remote islands in the world

Four athletes from the tiny South Atlantic island of St Helena have started an epic journey to the Isle of Man for the Commonwealth Youth Games.

The group will sail 1,200 miles to Cape Town before flying to the UK, where they will travel by coach and ferry to arrive on the eve of the Games.

Jessica Sim, 15, and Sarafina Yon, Tyrel Ellick and Myles Henry, all 17, will travel with two officials.

The Games' opening ceremony will be held in Douglas on 8 September.

St Helena's first Commonwealth event was in 1998 when the whole island raised the money to send Simon Henry and Patrick Young to compete in the men's full bore rifle.

'fantastic effort'

The volcanic island, which has a population of about 4,000 people, is part of the British Overseas Territories, which also includes the Ascension islands and the islands of Tristan da Cunha.

St Helena has no airport and is serviced by only one ferry, the RMS St Helena.

Image copyright Other
Image caption St Helena has no airport and is 700 miles from its nearest neighbour

The team is expected to be away from home for more than five weeks for the Games. If all goes to schedule they will arrive in the Isle of Man on the eve of the Games and return home on the 22 September.

Chairman of the National Amateur Sports Association of St Helena, Eric Benjamin, said the journey represented a "fantastic effort" by the young athletes.

"Some of them have not left their island home previously except to visit the smaller sister island of Ascension some 700 miles away.

'Courageous ambition'

"One of the athletes has never left the island at all. But distance and time is not going to thwart the courageous ambition of these young people to arrive in the Isle of Man, on time, for the opening ceremony of the Games."

Both boys will compete in athletics, while the girls will compete in swimming events.

The Falkland Islands will be the first team to arrive in the Isle of Man, on 2 September, ahead of the week long multi-sport event.

More than 1,000 competitors, from 67 Commonwealth nations, will compete in the seven-day sporting festival.

Chairman of the Isle of Man's CYG Organising Committee, Geoff Karran, MBE, said: "This is a tremendous effort by St Helena to be part of the Games and epitomises the spirit and enthusiasm that pervades the event."

Competitors will compete in athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, rugby and swimming.

The opening ceremony will be held at the newly refurbished Bowl in Douglas.

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