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Success in Brno

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Malta Amateur Athletic Association was again invited to participate in this third edition in Brno, the Czech Republic, hosting over 700 athletes ranging from 11 to 15 years of age. Now established as an international event the organization managed to attract teams from the three Baltic States, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as teams from Bulgaria, Slovenia and Croatia, besides that from Malta. Moreover, most athletics teams from the host country and the neighbouring Slovak Republic were also well represented.

All athletes competed in their particular year of birth, except that in the relays the older athletes born in 1993 and 1994 could be fielded in mixed age foursomes. In the previous two editions, Youth Athletics Malta had managed 16 medals in all but in this competition the Maltese contingent was limited to ten athletes, six boys and four girls, namely Jeremy Borg, Robert Zammit and Ian Paul Grech, all born in 1993, and Christian Luke Chetcuti, Daniel Vella and Clayton Sheldon born in 1994.

The elder girls were Tamara Vella and Jana Pace Cocks with those born in 1994 being Daniela Gauci Borda and Nadine Aquilina. The two-day event, held in cold and often windy conditions, rather unfamiliar for our representatives, nevertheless did not deter them from collecting another bagful of medals, six in all, five individual and one in the relays.

Undoubtedly, the hero of the Malta side was Christian Luke Chetcuti, who emerged first in the 1500m in a good time of 4 minutes and 31.21 seconds and who was eventually declared as posting the ‘Best Technical Performance’. This earned him an extra prize – a helicopter ride over the capital of Moravia.

Nadine Aquilina managed second place in the shot putt by hurling the implement a distance of 10.37 metres. In the same age category for the boys, Daniel Vella had the satisfaction of making third place his own by managing a best throw of 11.68 metres. Jeremy Borg and Tamara Vella, both finished third in their respective Long Jump events to garner the other individual medals. Christian Luke also competed in the 300m to finish fifth while Tamara made it to the B final in the 60m in which she finished second.

The other athletes fared well enough to finish very close to the podium. In fact, Clayton Sheldon made it to the Final of the 60m sprint, only to miss his target by finishing fourth in a new Personal Best of 7.60seconds and fifth in the Long Jump clearing 5.39 metres for another P.B. In the 300m longer sprint, Clayton managed the eighth berth. In other events, Jana Pace Cocks competed in the 60m B Final and came in third, sixth in the Long Jump and fifth in the 300m while Robert Zammit came in fifth in his 1500metres.

Daniela Gauci Borda competed in the 60 and the 30 metres placing satisfactorily, as did Ian Paul Grech in his 60m and in the Long Jump, in which he made it to fifth place with a jump of 4 cm over 6metres. The climax of the second day was, by tradition the relays, and the boys with high hopes of finishing on the podium, did just that, getting the baton over the line in a time of 29.02 seconds. The team was made up of Ian Paul Grech, Jeremy Borg, Christian Luke Chetcuti and Clayton Sheldon.

The visit of the team, under the watchful eyes of Council Member and Coach Mr Mario Micallef, and Ms Mary Rose Herd, a qualified Athletics’ official, was made possible through the assistance of the Kunsill Malti ghall-iSport and that of Malta’s national airline Air Malta.

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Grech Looking to Make it Five

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It may be one of the more recent additions to the local road running calendar, but the St. Vincent De Paul 5K has quickly made its mark to the extent that an ever increasing number of runners have this down as an un-missable race.

One such athlete is Gerald Grech even though there is a special reason for his eagerness to be on the starting line up for this year’s edition that takes place next Saturday. In fact, he has four special reasons, the number of times that he has emerged as winner of this race.

“Well, the organisers are always really eager to see me in the race which really motivates me to perform and win the race. There are always strong contenders out there but I always feel good in this race and I believe I will feel the same this year.”

So what makes this race so special? “The impeccable organisation, the continuous improvement through athletes' feedback, the build-up to the race, accurate measurement of the course, the ever growing participation to the race and the time of the year make it a race I look forward to every year!”

Given such attitude, his targets are fairly straightforward: “100% effort, sub-15.45 performance and a 5th title.”

Grech says this with the confidence of an athlete who is in form, and indeed his morale has been boosted by a good result last Sunday in a half-marathon in the Polish city of Katowice.

“I ran 1.17.12 and finished in 24th position out of 1131runners. This in extreme weather conditions where the temperature went down to 6 degrees, it was raining and the course was quite hilly course. So the conditions were from ideal which explains a time that is much slower than my personal best on this distance of 1.13.44.

“Nevertheless, I believe it was still a good performance considering the conditions I ran in and the fact that I just got to know about this race 2 weeks ago. It was my first international half-marathon abroad.”

“Even though I did not prepare for it as such it gave me the right boost for a new successful season”

This visit to Katowice wasn’t his first trip abroad this summer. “I was training hard till mid-August. I won the first two races of the Birkirkara Road Runnign Series, the second in a personal best time on the course, and those results mean that I now lead the standings with a 16 seconds advantage.”

“I also went to Manchester to run a British Milers Club 3,000m but due to some personal issues I did not perform as well as I was prepared for. Nevertheless we managed to create a contact with BMC meeting director and thus created new opportunities for good level races throughout the summer in the UK in the future.”

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Fame...of sorts

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This morning I've been pleasantly surprised to find out that my article on Gelindo Bordin has been picked up by Byran Green of Optimal Training.

Green makes a good point about how having a couple of 2:11 marathon runners train in Malta would help give local athletes a reference point, yet as I pointed out in my comments, it is hard for a sport that has to live with so little money.

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Youth Team Malta in Brno

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

By Anthony Fava

A group of ten young athletes left Malta on Sunday on their way to take part in the Third Edition of the European Kids Athletic Games to be held in Brno, the Czech Republic. For some of these athletes it is their third visit to the capital of Monrovia, where in the past two editions, competing according to their year of birth, Malta’s youth came away with a bagful of medals, the metal comprising two gold, seven silver and seven bronze awards. Among the ‘veterans’ are Tamara Vella and Jana Pace Cocks, both shining and winning medals in the sprints, jumps and relay in the previous two editions. Indeed, for their exploits last year both were accepted to form part of the nascent Youth Scheme for young promising athletes, part of the Talent Identification Scheme set up by the Malta Olympic Committee. Among the boys, Christian Luke Chetcuti (middle distance) is another among last year’s medal winners, while for Jeremy Borg, who takes part in the sprints, jumps and relay, it is another ever presence. Robert Zammit (middle distance), Daniela Gauci Borda (sprints and relay) and Daniel Vella (throws) all aspire to go one better than last year while for sprinter Clayton Sheldon and sprinter/jumper Ian Paul Grech it is a first taste of an international event abroad, each having had his first opportunity of such high level encounters during the July FISEC Games. The last name among the group is that of Nadine Aquilina, who has been consistently upgrading the youth shot putt record during this, her first – very successful – year in the sport. The last time she smashed the record she has now made her own, the 3kg metal ball was heaved a distance of 11.02 metres, in the athletic meeting that precisely determined the selection for this year’s edition. As in the previous editions, this event is attracting teams form the Baltic States, the Balkans and naturally, in greater numbers, from the Czech and Slovak Republics. For one reason or other, this year, the Malta team will not be such a strong force in the relays, which in the past have regaled the Association with medals of every hue. The girls’ team especially will sorely miss the absence of Marija Sciberras, who has been selected by the Association to take part in the Youth Commonwealth Games, in the hope that the experience gained by this youngster in her speciality, the hurdles, will be an asset to Team Malta in the Games for Small Nations in Cyprus next year. To look after the athletes in this venture, sponsored by the Kunsill Malti ghall-iSport and Air Malta will be Mr Mario Mifsud, MAAA Council Member and IAAF Level 2 Athletics Coach and Mrs Mary Rose Herd, a Qualified Official of the Association.

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Maltese Aspirations Paralympics

Monday, September 08, 2008

by Anthony Fava, PRO Pembroke Athleta

The South African Pistorius, in his endeavours to be given the opportunity to qualify for the Track events at the 29th Olympiad, probably contributed in no small way to bring the Paralympic Games to the attention of the general public. These Games have seen, for a number of years, the host nation affording the same venues, the same facilities, which feature so prominently in the media every four years when the Olympic Games come about. Indeed, the events at the Paralympic Games are very keenly contested and in a way, comparatively speaking, reach similarly high standards as those immediately concluded within the Olympic Games.

After a lapse of some years Malta will once again feature at these Games, at the now famous Track and Field venue, in Beijing, China, fondly referred to as the ‘Bird’s Nest’. Our representative hails from the Queen of Sport, because, in fact, the club Pembroke Athleta, so conspicuous within the local athletic fraternity, has nurtured amongst its member a lad of steel, Antonio Flores, who has been competing regularly with full honours at almost all of the athletics’ meetings organised by the Malta Amateur Athletic Association. As in previous years in 2008 Antonio competed in the local Track and Field Aggregate Meetings and the National Championships organised by the Malta Amateur Athletics Association. Recently he took part in a competition abroad, at the British Open Championships for competitors falling under his own disablement category, where he received accreditation to take part in these forthcoming Special Olympics. Besides, Antonio proudly played his part for Pembroke Athleta in the recent Clubs’ League, as a fully able-bodied athlete, helping Team B to attain third placing behind the Pembroke Team A and Allcomers Athletic Club.

At the age of 18 years, Antonio has been receiving training instructions for his events by the club’s top coach Jivko Jetchev, who has high hopes that the lad whom he has inspired these last years will really do well in the sprinting events. Antonio himself, very excited by the prospect of taking part, will depart for China on the 1st September, along with his positive disposition, his affable character and keen sense of competition. His friends at the club, the athletic fraternity and indeed, all Maltese unite to bide him a safe journey, a good competition and excellent results.

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Ksheim Wins But Misses Record

Haithem Ksheim continued in his recent vein of rich form when he won the Al Fresco Mellieha 5K with a certain degree of ease, coming in at a time of 15:48.

This was the first time that the previous year’s winner retained the title and Ksheim was just seven seconds off the course record that he himself holds.

St. Patrick’s AC’s Libyan born athlete is looking particularly good ahead of next month’s Road Running League and has to be considered as one of the favourites to land the title. Then again, Mellieha AC’s own Charles Cilia looked good in their most recent race, coming second with a time of 16:10.

He was followed by another Mellieha athlete in the form of Jason Martin who finished the route in a time of 16:20.

St. Patrick’s AC also took the honours in the women’s race where Pauline Vella won in a time of 21:07. She was followed by Gabriella Saliba 23:08 and Julia Grech 27:08.

After the event, one of the main sponsors Richard Vella, local representative of Diadora, spoke about the upcoming visit of athletics legend Gelindo Bordin. “We are very excited about this trip because it isn’t every day that athletes get to attend a coaching session of an Olympic gold medal winner.”

Indeed, local athletes will be able to meet Bordin at the Diadora outlet in Psaila Street, Birkirkara between 4:00 and 6:30 pm as well as attend a special training session hosted by Bordin. This will take place on the 15th September at the St. Aloysius Track in Birkirkara. Further details about this visit can be obtained by calling 21490294 or 99404417. Athletes are advised that places for the training session are limited and will be distributed on a first come first served basis.

Read this document on Scribd: Al Fresco 5km race2008

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Hili Wins and Goes Second In Birkirkara

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Carmen Hili jumped up to second place in the overall standing of the Birkirkara St. Joseph Running Series. This after winning the third leg with a time of 19:03 meaning that her best two times now total 38:33 putting her just one second ahead of Joelle Cortis.

All of this will make for an exciting final race next December even though Hili’s St. Patrick’s AC team-mate Giselle Camilleri seems to have wrapped this one up. With a combined best time of 36:18, it is difficult to see her not winning bar from missing the final race. Neither Camilleri nor Cortis took part in the third race.

The same reasoning applies to Gerald Grech with the AS Libertas athlete remaining on top of the standings despite giving the third race a miss. That was won by Pembroke Athleta’s Brian Magri with a time of 16:05.

That result means that Magri remains second ahead of St. Patrick’s AC’s Drew Lang who came in second in the third race of the series.

The results from the men's race are to be found here whilst that from the women's race can be found here here

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Spiteri Second in Triathlon Championships

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Danica Spiteri finished second in the 9th edition of the Triathlon championships of the Small States of Europe held in Luxembourg on Sunday 25 August. In a race which saw 45 athletes mainly from Luxembourg but also from Monaco, Malta, Liechtenstein and Cyprus, the Maltese Champion managed to hold on to her second place and finish in a time of 2hrs:39m:56s. First female athlete was Myriam Reuland from Luxembourg who finished in 2hrs:36m.38s while third athlete was Sandra Lieners, also from Luxembourg, in a time of 2hrs:42m.40s.

Fabio Spiteri, the other athlete in the Maltese contingent finished the race, which he described as the toughest of his life, in 10th place in a time of 2hrs:18m:56s. The race was won by Herve Banti from Monaco in 1hr:54m:56s; second and third were Yannick Lieners and Christian Krombach both from Luxembourg.

Mr. Oswald Spiteri accompanied the Maltese contingent in Luxembourg and represented the Malta Triathlon Association in a Meeting of the heads of the Small States of Europe. During this Meeting, it was decided that the next edition of the Race will be held in Malta in the send week of May 2009.

The participation in this international race was made possible thanks to the Maltese Olympic Committee.

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