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Isle of Man officers to compete at World Firefighter Games 21 August 2008

THE Beijing Olympics may be drawing to a close, but another group of finely tuned athletes is limbering up for 10 days of intense sporting competition.

The 2008 World Firefighters Games get under way in Liverpool this Sunday (August 24) – and the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service will be well represented. A total of eight local officers are taking part in activities ranging from cycling and clay pigeon shooting to judo and golf. Chief Fire Officer Brian Draper is leading by example by riding in the mountain bike event alongside three of his colleagues.

But medals will be hard to come by for the Manx contingent as rivalry is fierce and the standard of competition extremely high. This is underlined by the fact that when the Games were last held in the UK – Sheffield in 2004 – two GB national records were broken.

The Island officers will line up alongside thousands of competitors from around the world for the biennial event which runs from August 24 to September 3. The programme is slightly more varied than the Olympics, with medals on offer in 67 different sporting and fun activities such as chess, fishing, arm wrestling, poker, photography and the firehouse cook-off. These take place alongside the more traditional track and field, swimming and cycling events.

The Games, which raise thousands of pounds for charity, will also feature a full social and family programme based around the new Liverpool Arena and Convention Centre on the city’s iconic waterfront. The Isle of Man firefighters taking part – Brian Draper, Steve Brearley, Mark Caley, Gary Hinds (mountain biking), Neil Parsons, Jason Wright (clay pigeon shooting), Tim Calladine (golf) and Floyd Askin (judo) – are contributing towards the cost of the trip and competing in their own time.

The Island’s best chances of a medal arguably lie with Neil Parsons, who has previously captained the Great Britain firefighters shooting team, and Floyd Askin who has also competed at international level. Members of the group wish to thank the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and Unique Fire Protection Ltd for their support.

The 10th World Firefighters Games form part of Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture celebrations. The city is also hosting the annual fire service conference and one of the Isle of Man’s new appliances will be on display at the transport exhibition.

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