Friday, July 31, 2009
For those looking to take part in the Gudja 8km, here's the application form:
For those looking to take part in the Gudja 8km, here's the application form:
A week late perhaps, but here are the results from the 2nd Round of the Clubs'League.
The latest issue of the MAAA electronic newsletter has been published and it includes an analysis of recent results achieved by Maltese athletes in international competition as well as a review of what happened at the Small Nations Games.
A season that started with so much promise ultimately delivered very little for Andrew Cassar Torregiani yet it is not over yet as he talks to MaltaAthletics.com about his year and how he’s looking to finish on a high in Finland.
“You could say that it has been a negative season for me , but this was only due to a series of injuries starting from back problems and then moving to a nasty hip injury. Despite that I am now fully recovered, and I feel that I have started to perform well again.”
“I got the news that I was going to compete at the EYOF at the beginning of May. In the lead up to these games my preparation has focused on not getting injured, competing in the Clubs’ League, and frequent – 3 times a week - long jump sessions.
“My coach will not be coming with me, but this has now become a norm to be in a competition without our coach. It is harder to perform especially in an event like long jump where you cannot always judge what you are doing wrong yourself.”
“I have set myself some targets and hopefully my training will pay off and I will clear 7m.”
A wise coach once told me that what’s important in athletics isn’t how you handle success but how you react to defeat. Of course, it is a maxim that holds in life as much as it does to sport, yet its validity for athletics is driven home time after time as athletes something goes wrong for athletes used to winning and they struggle to recover.
Fortunately for Steve Camilleri, that’s a not going to be a problem since he’s already shown that he can use knock-backs to fuel his motivation. One of the two athletes who is representing Malta at the European Youth Olympic Forum in Finland, he’s had to overcome his fair share of set-backs before getting to this stage.
“I finished last season on a sad note when I wasn't chosen for Youth Commonwealth Games and I wanted to prove that I'm a valid athlete for the National Squad.”
“To prepare well for this season we spent two weeks training in Sofia (Bulgaria) over the Christmas holidays and that paid off. Indeed in my first race in February, I managed to beat Nikolai Portelli which I wasn’t expecting and that gave me an extra boost to train harder.”
“My plan was to run the 200m and 400m throughout the season as well as that of focusing on the Malta International Meeting 2009.” Again, his hard work paid off once again as he “ran the 200m in a personal best of 22.62sec, finished 1st in my heat and qualified for World Youth Championships and also EYOF. After that I had 400m where I finished 1st in my heat in 50.83sec and during the relay 4 x 100m, we managed to break the National Junior Record in 43.64.”
Mention of qualification to the World Youth Championships by Camilleri is strange since his name didn’t feature in the competition held in Italy last month. What led to this omission explains why Maltese athletics is so messed up.
“I qualified in April but because I had an injury after that I was told that I had to qualify again. I was still training during my school exams to try and peak again for World Youths and EYOF. On a Tuesday, one of the MAAA members came at the track and told me ‘you have a trail next Saturday’ but it doesn't work like that: I was not even training on endurance, I was training on speed work without spikes, but that was their decision. So I had to do it even though my doctor told me that I was risking another tear in my hamstring. I did 23.61, which is 1sec away from my personal best but I didn't push till the end since it was too hot on a Saturday at 4pm!”
Further evidence of the convulted way of thinking of Maltese sports comes from the choice of coach to accompany the two athletes at the EYOF. The question about who has been chosen to go along with them draws out a laugh from Camilleri. “The MAAA decided to send a coach that is neither my coach, nor even Andrews (Cassar Torregiani, the other athlete).”
“This is not the way how to do things. We have lack of communication with this coach and we need one of our coaches to help us through our difficulties before the game. I always speak to my coach exactly before the race in Malta to boost me mentally. Abroad I don't have these facilities. I cannot find the positive reason they find in not sending our coach.”
Whatever happens in Finland, however, this has been a good season for Camilleri, one that has highlighted his strength of character. “It was a tough season and coming back from a hamstring injury wasn't easy at all. Now that I can run again, I’m doing my best to get the best results that I can.”
Even so, he wants to go out on a high although he won’t reveal his targets for Finland. “I have some targets in mind but I don't want to be pressured. When I had pressure I failed to do good times, so I don’t want any pressure now. I simply want tol run as fast as possible for myself and my country.”
Much was expected from James D'Alfonso as he set out to make his GSSE debut earlier this year.
A series of impressive results in the 400m back in Australia where he lives had been enough to see him being labelled as the next big thing for Maltese athletics and a certainty to win a medal in Cyprus.
Both of those targets were, to an extent, achieved as D'Alfonso came second in the individual race and then helped the team win a bronze medal in the relay. Even so the feeling was that, given all the hype, he could have done better and nail at least a gold medal.
The result wasn't a satisfying one for D'Alfonso either.
"I was happy with silver but I wasn't too happy with the time I ran," he admits.
"I was expecting to place either first or second so I achieved what I set out to do. However, I'm never completely satisfied with second place, I need to keep working hard and soon I will be good enough to achieve the gold for the next GSSE."
That sort of attitude will serve him well in his career as will the experience of these Games.
"The level of competition in the 400m was the level that I expected. Overall the standard was quite good," he said.
"I really enjoyed myself. It was my first chance to represent Malta and I gave it my best shot. The athletics team welcomed me and I really felt I was part of the group straight away. It was good to have all of the other sports teams around because I'm not usually exposed to them."
Best of all, however, was to put on the red Maltese vest.
"Running for Malta is one of the best things that has happened to me in my life," he said.
"To represent Malta is a dream come true, sometimes I still can't believe it. When I was young I always wondered what it would be like to compete internationally and now I'm doing it... it's awesome!"
Luckily for D'Alfonso, he won't have to wait to do so again as he's been chosen as Malta's sole representative in the European U-23 championships in Kaunas and which kick off next week.
To slightly complicate matters, D'Alfonso has been restricted in his preparations due to the lack of competitive events back home at this time of year.
"The Australian season has been over since April," he confirms.
"It's good and bad. When there is no competition it is difficult to get race fitness and the feel of the race, however I am able to train harder. Without weekly competition to worry about I can focus on training because I won't be worried about feeling fresh on competition day."
The St Vincent de Paul Running Group Annual General Meeting was held and a new committee was elected which is composed of:- President- Raymond Chetcuti, Vice President – M’Anne Ellul, Secretary – Noel Sharples, Treasurer – Philip Spiteri, Official Doctor- Dr Edward Bellia, Members :Miriam Cassar, Anthony Borg, Paul Bottone and Rudolph Cini.
The Secretary, Mr Noel Sharples, in his comments emphasized that the Group will continue to encourage the public for a healthy life through athletics.
The Day of the Elderly and the feast of St Vincent de Paul will be commemorated by the St Vincent de Paul 5 Km Race / 1 Km Fun Run, which will be held on the 3rd October 2009. The President, Mr Raymond Chetcuti is this year’s Race Director.
The recent trend of poor attendances continued during the first day of the Clubs' League that yet again highlighted how, for all the validity of the competition, it needs an overhaul to improve its standing.
They might have their critics but the FISEC Games traditionally offer a great for Maltese youths to test themselves in European competition. The squad for this year's edition of these games, to be held between the 17th and 23rd of July in Algarve (Portugal) was announced next week and appears to be primed with promising talent. The squad is made up of the following:
Annalise Vassallo, Chloe Gambin, Marija Sciberras, Ylenia Lapira, Ramona Vassallo, Jeremy Borg, Clayton Sheldon, Christian Luke Chetcuti, Luca Pace, Bertrand Sant, Daniel Vella, Jean Gauci, Simon Spiteri.
Coaches: Mario Micallef, Angie Mangion.
Some athletes seem to be permanently in the headlines whilst others lie constantly in the background regardless of their achievements. Angela Sammut falls into this latter category: one of the top female long distance runners with a series of wins in local races to her name yet very little recognition.
Not that she’s complaining. Indeed, her primary concern is maintaining her current level of fitness and form that recently saw her winning the Mosta 5 Miles. “My training is going really well,” she says. “I’m training by myself and I’m very happy with my progress. I’m cautious with my training yet I know how far to push myself to prevent recurrences of old injuries.”
Next up for her is the Birzebbuga 10K where she is eager to make a mark in the race that is organised by her club St. Patrick’s AC. “The Birzebbuga 10k is though and the July heat doesn’t make it any easier. But I’m willing to run a personal best which I think shouldn’t be difficult given my current level of fitness.”
A frequent winner in Birzebbuga in the past, Sammut holds dear in particular her 2004 success there. “I recently came across a newspaper cutting from 2004 where it was mentioned that I had won the ladies race in 40.57 just three months after my daughter Michaela was born,” she recounts. “I’ve won the race on a number of occasions but I have to say that 2004 was special.”
Last week saw the first summer meet but, in reality, it was a poorly attended event with very few results of note. Perhaps everyone is still suffering from the post GSSE hangover? Who knows but let's hope that next week's Club's League sparks off greater interest.
Birkirkara 5K Road Running Series 2009
The seventh edition of the Birkirkara 5K Road Running Series, organised by Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club in collaboration with the Birkirkara Local Council, and under the auspices of the Malta Amateur Athletic Association, got underway on the 30th June, with the first race on the Mtarfa By-Pass. Charles Cilia won the race 15 minutes 52 seconds, while Joelle Cortis was first female in 19 minutes 25 seconds.
Charles Cilia, Gerald Grech and Brian Magri set a fast pace from the start, quickly detaching themselves from the rest of the field. However it was Cilia who got the upper hand midway through the race. He crossed the finishing line 10 seconds ahead of Grech. Brian Magri finished third in 16 minutes, seven seconds.
Joelle Cortis and Angela Sammut were battling it out in the Females’ race, both of them running in each other’s shadow. This race was decided in the final kilometre, when Cortis started to get the better of her rival. Sammut’s reaction in the final stages was not enough to close the gap. Cortis’ victory was by two seconds. Third female was Josann Attard in 20 minutes 28 seconds.
The second race in this Series will be held on Tuesday, 28th July starting at 7.30 p.m.