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Our Sporting Life Exhibition 22 August 2011

What does sport mean to you? That is the question being asked by Manx National Heritage in their new interactive exhibition ‘Our Sporting Life’, which opens at the Manx Museum on Saturday 3rd September. The exhibition coincides with the launch of the Commonwealth Youth Games and will run throughout 2012 leading up to the London Olympic Games.

1958‘Our Sporting Life’ celebrates the achievements of the Isle of Man’s modern sports stars, whilst also revealing historic sporting heroes and events. The exhibition aims to salute all aspects of sport on and from the Isle of Man, from school sports through to world championship performances. It examines our attitudes towards sport, looking at what inspires our sporting stars, what motivates ordinary people to go to extraordinary lengths for their sport and what sport actually means to each of us. Elements of the exhibition will change over the course of the year to coincide with events in the sporting calendar. The exhibition will open with a focus upon the Commonwealth Games and the phenomenal success of Manx cyclists on the world stage.

Katie King Manx National Heritage Curator for ‘Our Sporting Life’ said:

“The Isle of Man has a fantastic Commonwealth Games record and a fascinating story to tell. We sent our first team to the Games in 1958, and against all expectations, cyclist Stuart Slack won a Bronze medal in the men’s road race. The team returned to the Isle of Man as conquering heroes, the popularity of cycling soared and we have sent athletes to the Games ever since. Together with the Commonwealth story, we will also be exploring the Isle of Man’s unique relationship with cycling. The amazing success of Mark Cavendish has gripped the nation in recent years, but we have been producing top cyclists on the Island since the 1950s and continue to produce cyclists with the potential to follow in Cav’s wheel tracks. The Manx cycling phenomenon is a truly captivating story.”

Over the past year Manx National Heritage has been forging new relationships with the local sporting community, working closely with the Sports Development Unit, the Sports Council and the Isle of Man Commonwealth Games Association, along with many local sports clubs and athletes. Manx National Heritage aims to make the exhibition as community focused as possible, and once the exhibition opens curators are still keen to gather stories from those with a sporting story to share.

Katie King continued:

“Over the past year we have been busy interviewing athletes and sporting heroes about their commitment to their chosen sport and have gathered some inspirational stories. The exhibition will celebrate sport on the Isle of Man through focusing upon these individual stories, using personal accounts, photographs, film and of course some amazing objects. We realised early on that there is a mind blowing amount of sport happening on our small Island and we hope we have captured the spirit of this in the exhibition.

We hope to inspire visitors to ‘Our Sporting Life’ to consider sport in a new light, and to perhaps take up a new sport for themselves. We will have two Watt Bikes in the exhibition, the same exercise bikes used by the Olympic training academy, so visitors can test their fitness levels and take part in a bike race, or try their luck in our interactive gaming area! We are also developing an exciting programme of events and activities, the first of which is an audience with the Island’s top Olympian, Ian Sharpe – who has won ten medals at the Paralympics in the course of a career spanning 30 years. On Saturday 24th September Ian will be talking about his career, his hopes for 2012 and perhaps even demonstrate his phenomenal talent on our Watt bikes! ”

Visitors to the exhibition will be impressed by the sheer number of objects and images that Manx National Heritage has uncovered. Highlights include Mark Cavendish’s Tour de France stage winning road bike from 2008, together with his Commonwealth Gold medal; David Knight’s World Championship winning motorcycle; Zoe Gillings’ Olympic snowboard outfit; swimming and cycling legend Ian Sharpe’s Paralympic medals; and the Isle of Man Football Associations’ impressive Hospital and Railway Cups.

The exhibition will be officially opened at the Manx Museum on the evening of Friday 2nd September by Mr Geoff Karran MBE in the presence of His Excellency the Lieutenant Government Mr Adam Wood and special guests from the Manx sporting community.

The exhibition opens to the public at 10am on Saturday 3rd September.


Editors Notes on Our Sporting Life Nationwide:

Our Sporting Life (OSL) is a unique and ambitious UK celebration of British Sport. It is the first project of its kind to salute sport from grass roots to Olympic podia and will culminate in the world's greatest exhibition on the history of sport as the Olympic and Paralympic Games are launched in London in 2012. OSL is an exciting way to involve your local community in the cultural life of your region. Sport and objects associated with it have the power to inspire people, to cross boundaries and to found new partnerships. We aim to bring together from all over the country objects, stories and photographs that tell the story of Great British Sport. With the support of LOCOG, the British Olympic Foundation and the Sports Heritage Network, OSL will help to ensure that the legacy and heritage of sport is preserved well into the future.

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