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Meet Malta’s Olympian: After Battling COVID-19, Track Athlete Carla Scicluna Is Ready To Bounce Back At Tokyo

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In a matter of weeks, six Maltese athletes will pack their bags and take a trip out east, where they will sprint, swim, shoot, rally and lift alongside the world’s elite at the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. 

For most, the Olympics is a new and exciting venture where they can showcase their talent and represent their country on the biggest sporting stage known to mankind. 

All have been preparing for years for this moment, but not many had to go through the hurdles and struggles that local sprinter Carla Scicluna had to go through just weeks before she received the call that she would be representing Malta in the 100 metres at the prestigious games. 

 

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A post shared by Carla Scicluna (@carla.scicluna)

“I contracted COVID-19 earlier this year and returning back to the sport after having it was quite challenging due to the impact it had on my health and the fact that I had to start training from ‘scratch’ after two whole weeks out,” the track and field athlete told Lovin Malta. 

“It was also a challenge because when I finished quarantine, Malta went into a partial lockdown so I had to adjust to training at outdoor spaces like beaches until we were given the go-ahead to use the track again,” she said.

Scicluna is Malta’s 100-metre national champion and earlier this year achieved the title of Winter Champion in the 60 metres, securing a spot at the European Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland.

However, she was unable to attend after testing positive for COVID-19. 

To add insult to injury, the Marsa Sports Complex was undergoing some renovation work, rendering the track unsuitable for practice. 

Thankfully, Athletics Malta stepped in to lessen the blow by providing national athletes with a warm-up track to train on.

“We also had to travel abroad to compete since it wasn’t possible in Malta throughout the pandemic,” Scicluna continued. “With the help of Athletics Malta, SportMalta and the Maltese Olympic Committee, we were given opportunities to showcase our hard work abroad which also helped us gain some experience,” she said.

Despite suffering a physical setback, Scicluna managed to mount a comeback for the European Championship in Limassol, Cyprus where she recorded a season-best in the 200 metres and formed part of Malta’s 4 x 100 women’s relay team that came in third place.

 

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A post shared by Carla Scicluna (@carla.scicluna)

Needless to say, it hasn’t been easy for the 20-year-old athlete leading up to the Olympic Games, but her hard work, resilience and lightning-fast speed earned her a call from the Malta Olympic Committee.

“This has always been a dream of mine, ever since starting the sport. Just having this opportunity to live out this experience is something for which I am beyond grateful,” she said. 

“My mind hasn’t fully wrapped around the fact that I’m going to the Olympics. I’m still in disbelief, so my mental preparation still needs some work.”

Scicluna will be representing Malta in the 100-metre track and field event. She hopes to break the 12-second barrier at Tokyo and hopes to get past the preliminary round, but any shot of leaving with a medal is a step beyond her reach.

That’s because, like many local athletes in her position, Scicluna is a product of a culture that doesn’t prioritise sports as a profession, but rather sees it as a hobby that comes secondary to everything else. 

“I think there needs to be a total change in mentality that doing a sport whilst still in school is impossible,” Scicluna continued. “The idea that many people just stop practicing a sport or a hobby just because of exams needs to be outdated.”

“This way, people who started a sport at a young age can continue to invest in their potential and improve in their respective sport, which will benefit both them and their country by putting Malta on the map,” she said.

 

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A post shared by Carla Scicluna (@carla.scicluna)

The 20-year-old athlete is currently studying medicine while also balancing her athletic duties and social life. It hasn’t been easy and comes with sacrifices that only a disciplined, committed and ambitious athlete is willing to make.

“It is quite tough and can get quite stressful at times. I follow a strict personal schedule which includes waking up very early, getting a good day’s work, training in the evening and making sure I rest early,” she said. 

“As a lifestyle, it requires discipline, sacrifice and good time management.”

All those early mornings, track sessions and countless sacrifices have paid off with the track and field athlete reaching the pinnacle of athletics as she heads to Tokyo later this month.

“I’m looking forward to just being there and living the Olympic experience while proudly representing my country and competing,” she ended.

Scicluna will join badminton player Matthew Abela, indoor pistol shooter Eleanor Bezzina, weightlifter Yazmin Zammit Stevens and swimmers Andrew Chetcuti and Sasha Gatt as part of Malta’s contingent heading up to Tokyo.

The MOC will hold a press conference next Monday announcing further details on the delegation representing Malta and who will be the flag bearer for the opening ceremony.

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