Poignant gold for Hazel at island games

Hazel crosses the finish line to win the 400m for Jersey at the International Island Games - shortly after, she learned that her dad John had died
Hazel crosses the finish line to win the 400m for Jersey at the International Island Games - shortly after, she learned that her dad John had died

A former Whitby woman was the most decorated athlete at the International Island Games in Bermuda, with a clutch of medals including her first gold.

The occasion was all the more poignant for Hazel le Cornu (29) as her father John died during the games after an illness.

Athletics womens 400m final - Island Games 2013 Bermuda. Hazel Le Cornu  Picture: MATTHEW HOTTON

Athletics womens 400m final - Island Games 2013 Bermuda. Hazel Le Cornu Picture: MATTHEW HOTTON

And on Tuesday night, Hazel was awarded the Bill Custard Memorial Trophy, which is presented to the competitor who has shown outstanding courage, determination and sportsmanship during the games.

Competing for Jersey, Rolls Royce engineer Hazel produced a classic front-running performance to land the women’s 400m title at the National Sports Center.

Her mum Pip said: “It was quite emotional as my husband John was seriously ill while Hazel was competing in Bermuda and poignantly, she won the 400m gold three-quarters of an hour after he dad died, and she wasn’t told about it until afterwards.”

It was the Channel Island’s first track and field gold of the games, but Hazel continued to sparkle, earning silver medals in the 400m hurdles, 4 x 400m relay and a bronze in the 4 x 100m relay.

The games are held every two years and are open to all islands across the world, with sportspeople competing in track and field events and sports such as football, shooting, cycling, sailing and golf.

Former Caedmon and Whitby Community College student Hazel, who was competing at the games for the fourth time, was over the moon with the Bill Custard Memorial Trophy and said her nomination had come as a surprise. Part of the citation read: “Hazel, despite a terrible lane draw, number eight, won Jersey’s first track gold with a really gutsy run in the 400m final. However, her joy soon turned to despair when she was then informed of the unexpected passing away of her father.

“Taking some time out to gather herself, she vowed to honour his memory, by battling on, not least to allow her three female team-mates to compete in the relays.”