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Countdown to Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games

Graham Stigant

Athlete Profile: Graham Stigant

Home town/village: Baldrine, Isle of Man

Occupation: Efficiency engineer at the Pulrose Power Station

Sport: Swimming (Competitor) / Triathlon – Director of CGA IOM and committee member of Manx Tri Club

CGA IOM History:

Swimming: (1978 – 1990)

1978 Edmonton:

100m Breaststroke (1:15.95 mins)

200m Breaststroke (2:41.75 mins)

200m Individual Medley (2:31.98)

1978 Logo16

1982 Brisbane:

100m Breaststroke (1:13.27)

200m Breaststroke (2:35.94)

200m Individual Medley (2:23.70)

1982 Commonwealth Games logo16

1986 Edinburgh:

100m Breaststroke (1:13.43)

200m Breaststroke (2:37.03)

200m Individual Medley (2:23.03)

1986 Games Logo10

1990 Auckland:

100m Breaststroke (1:13.26)

200m Breaststroke (2:37.14)

200m Individual Medley (2:22.21)

4 x 100m Freestyle Relay (3:47.36 – 8th position)

4 x 100m Medley Relay (4:15.98 – 7th position)

4 x 200m Freestyle Relay (8:34.39 – 7th position)

1990 Games Logo9

How did you first begin participating in Swimming?

I grew up in the Isle of Man as part of a very sporty family. My parents, Joyce and Brian, were both keen cyclists and swimmers and my two brothers, Shane and Mark, also swam. We would often battle it out with each other in the swimming pool and my interest in the sport grew as I started competing in school swimming galas. From there, I went on to represent the Isle of Man at both local events and UK championships. I was soon eager to compete off-island as much as I could and I was delighted when I secured a place in the Island’s Commonwealth Games team for the games in Edmonton, Canada, in 1978. I went on to compete in Brisbane 1982, Edinburgh 1986 and Auckland 1990. My main events were the men’s 100m and 200m breaststroke but I also competed as part of the men’s relay team in Auckland. 

How does it feel to represent Team Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Games?

It is a tremendous experience and opportunity, especially when you compare the size of the Isle of Man to other Commonwealth nations such as Australia, Canada and England. Despite the Island’s size, competitors have moved on from simply wanting to represent the Isle of Man to wanting to come home with a medal. It’s not just about making up the numbers. In addition, with many of the Commonwealth nations being small islands, such as Gibraltar, Jersey and Guernsey, there is an excellent rivalry between us. The focus now, however, is very much on proving that we can beat the best from any Commonwealth nation, no matter what its size.

What has been your favourite sporting moment whilst representing Team Isle of Man?

Carrying the flag at the 1990 Commonwealth Games will be up there but the favourite has to be the shared experience of representing Team Isle of Man as part of the relay swimming team. The Island sent four male swimmers –David Glover, David Picken, myself and my brother Shane - to Auckland in 1990, which meant we had enough to make a relay team. In one of the events, we had to beat another smaller nation in a heat to be able to get through to the final. We did so, and the atmosphere at the final that evening was electric. The experiences we shared together, from the hard work leading up to the games to competing in a final, were just fantastic.

What has been your ultimate achievement to date?

My biggest achievement to date was competing in the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in October 2006. To qualify for this event – which comprises a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a marathon run - is considered an exceptional achievement. To get to Hawaii, I had to finish in the top 12 in my age group at the Frankfurt Ironman in July 2006. I finished seventh in 10:21:37. However, after securing my place I came down with a nasty chest infection. I only had three months to recover and prepare for the championships but I did it – and thoroughly enjoyed the event on the day. 

What one or two things did you do in your training that were key to achieving your goals?

The most important thing for me has always been consistency. You have to keep to your training schedule and make every session count – which can often mean sacrificing social occasions and time with your family.

Secondly, for me, having my brother as a rival spurred us both on as we were determined to beat each other!

Have you had any key role models growing up?

I admit I had a poster of Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz on my wall when I was growing up. He won seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, when I was 11 years old and just starting serious swim training before and after school.

Another inspiration has been the succession of hugely talented British breaststrokers, starting in the 1970s with David Wilkie - who won an Olympic gold at the 1976 summer games in Montreal - and continuing to the present day. 

What would be your advice for a young aspiring athlete aiming to represent CGA IOM?

I think youngsters need to open their minds to ensure that not only are they the best on the Island, but also best in Great Britain. They may be a big fish in a small pond over here, but compared to the talent in the rest of Britain they may still have quite a way to go.

They also need to be prepared to accept setbacks, learn from them and keep pushing on. 

Where do you see yourself in the future? What aims do you have? 

I’m now classified as a veteran athlete and my aim now is simply to continue participating in competitive sport for as long as my body will let me. I am the Head of Performance for Triathlon in the Isle of Man and take a lot of pleasure in guiding our young athletes onto the Great Britain performance pathway.