These 11 Athletes Are Making Malta Proud Around The World
Golf, rugby, basketball and tennis... We've got it all and we don't even know it.
As the Rio Olympics kicking off this weekend, all eyes are on the seven Maltese athletes waving our island's flag in Brazil. But what about all the other athletes working hard to make Malta proud around the world? Here are 11(ish) local stars who are making a name for our small island at an international level. Show them some love.
Nathan Lee Xuereb – Double Trap
This young shooter became a household name in 2012 when, aged 15, he was one of the twelve double trap shooters to qualify for the ISSF World Cup Finals, the youngest ever to qualify for this competition. In 2013 he won gold in the double trap competition at the European Junior Championships and went on to win the title in 2014 and 2016 to net an impressive three junior titles, while also winning a gold medal at the 2016 Junior World Cup.
Stevie Camilleri - Waterpolo
The Neptunes WPSC player has been making a name for himself in waterpolo for number of years. Besides being the island’s top waterpolo player, he has played internationally for nine years and currently plays for CC Ortigia in the Italian Serie A1. The 2016 Sportsman of the Year recently earned the spot of top scorer at the 2016 European Championships scoring an impressive 21 goals during the tournament.
Birkirkara FC – Football
Birkirkara FC made history just last month when they became the first Maltese football club to reach the third qualifying round of the Europa League, beating Scottish team Heart of Midlothian FC 2-1. While not progressing any further in the tournament, this achievement is an admirable one and one which should motivate Maltese footballers to train hard and go even further in the coming years.
David Galea – Triathlon
2016 has been a good year for triathlon, with David Galea becoming the second Maltese ever to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. The 2014 long distance triathlon national champion and 2003 triathlon champion will take on the challenge of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon run of 26.22-miles on the Hawaiian island next October.
Rugby Sevens National Teams
It was only last month when the Maltese men’s national team won the Rugby Europe Sevens Conference 2, the first ever win for Malta at this tournament, after winning all of their matches in Bosnia. The women’s national team almost equalled this success when finishing second, ensuring promotion to a higher division.
Helene Pellicano - Tennis
The 14-year-old tennis star recently made headlines when she became the first Maltese player to win the European Tennis Junior Championships after securing her number 1 spot in the Tennis Europe Junior Tour’s ranking earlier this year. In 2015 she was the first Maltese to win a Tennis Europe Junior Masters title and the Malta Tennis Federation has called her Malta’s strongest ever junior player.
Rodmar Pulis - Weightlifting
The 22-year-old weightlifter has been making a name for himself in the sport since a young age, breaking several youth national records along the way. In fact, he currently holds national records in the clean and jerk in every age group and recently represented Malta at the European Weightlifting Senior Championships in Norway. He was due to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games but had to give up his place due to a shoulder injury. We wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him back in action!
Sophie Abela and Hannah Al Tumi - Basketball
For years, the women’s National Basketball Team has been a force to be reckoned with, taking home the gold at the 2009 Games of the Small States of Europe and at the 2008, 2010 and 2016 FIBA Women’s European Championships for Small Countries. Their Under-18 counterparts refuse to sit in the shadows and won a bronze medal at the 2016 European Division C Championships earlier this year. At the tournament, team members Sophie Abela and Hannah Al Tumi were selected amongst the championships All Star Five.
Golf National Team
It was just last week that the Maltese golf national team landed a bronze medal in the second edition of the European Team Shield Championships after battling it out against Liechtenstein in the final. This achievement was coupled with Andy Borg ending on top of the leader board.
Vladyslava Kravchenko – Swimming
Although paralympic swimming is somewhat of a newer sport in Malta, athlete Valda Kravchenko has quickly become Malta’s top athlete in the sport taking it to new levels with her achievements in the pool and on land. She started swimming in 2013 and went on to participate in numerous international competitions including the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships. She was recently selected to represent Malta at the 2016 Paralympic Games which will be held in Rio in September 2016 were she will participate in the 50m butterfly, 50m backstroke and the 100m breaststroke. She has also made a name for herself and Malta behind the scenes, involving herself in several sports organisations and being appointed a Youth Ambassador for the European Paralympic Committee with the goal of promoting the paralympic movement amongst other youths.
Cricket National Team
The Maltese national cricket team have just returned from Hungary were they placed second in the Pan European T20 Tournament after winning the same tournament in 2014. They started the tournament with three comprehensive victories, including one against UCT Dubai, the eventual winners.