Exhibition: Our Sporting Life, Manx Museum, Isle of Man, from September 3 2011
© Richard Allen
Manx Missile Mark Cavendish was the toast of the island when he became Britain’s first winner of the Tour de France best sprinter heat this summer, but Manx National Heritage Curator Katie King says his breathless triumph is only the latest in a proud lineage of sporting epics courtesy of the island.
“We sent our first team to the Commonwealth Games in 1958,” she explains, reflecting on the heroic parade of dedication.
“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.
“The amazing success of Mark 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.”
Exploring what King calls a “unique relationship” between locals and bikes, Manx National Heritage has spent a year interrogating the local sporting community, amassing a marathon haul of yarns.
“We have been busy interviewing athletes and sporting heroes about their commitment to their chosen sport and have gathered some inspirational stories,” promises King.
“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.”
Photographs, films and objects include the bike “Cav” won a Tour de France stage with in 2008, appearing alongside his Commonwealth Gold.
Paralympic cycling great Ian Sharpe will be helping visitors test their fitness on waiting Watt bikes – as used by the Olympic training academy – and there are snowboard outfits from the games, cups from the Isle’s Football Association and a programme of talks and events planned during the display.
- Open 10am-5pm (except Sunday). Admission free.
More pictures from the show:
© Courtesy British Cycling UK
© Courtesy Isle of Man Newspapers