A spectacular Opening Ceremony heralded the beginning of the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man last night.

More than 225 local gymnasts, dancers, and musicians paid tribute to the Isle of Man’s rich cultural heritage, in a welcome performance centring on the fable of Mannanan - ancient Celtic sea-god and legendary first ruler of the island.

Athletes and officials from 63 Commonwealth countries, including England, participated in front of a capacity 4,000 crowd at ‘The Bowl’ – Isle of Man’s National Stadium. The event was broadcast live online by the BBC.  

The Games were officially opened by His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex, who said: “I’m delighted the Isle of Man is generously supporting yet another major sports event.

“An event like this could not happen without the dedicated efforts of hundreds of volunteers and supporters.  I’d like to thank you all, and also the officials and sponsors.  You are not just the future athletes of the Commonwealth; you are the next generation of the Commonwealth.

“This extraordinary family, to which we all belong, is interconnected by an amazing array of common foundations, friendship and delicate relationships.  Sport is perhaps the most tangible manifestation of this.

“The Commonwealth doesn’t exist for you, but because of you, and when you get home spread the message of what the Commonwealth and these Games meant to you.”