Malta has all the right conditions and facilities to nurture elite sailors, with athletes from all over the world choosing the archipelago to conduct their training leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Yet it has been decades since the islands themselves have produced an Olympic-level sailor, despite the abundance of talent and resources at our feet.
“Malta is a well-known place for its winds and is a fantastic venue for winter preparations,” said sailing coach Alex Denisiuc. “A lot of people are willing to come here because the conditions are very similar to Japan”.
Malta has hosted a number of Olympic athletes over the past two winters including teams from Singapore, Japan, Croatia, Cyprus, Great Britain and Estonia.
“We’ve had around 13 nations overall come here to prepare throughout the winter season,” Denisiuc continued.
Of all the athletes who visited to train, four sailors with the Royal Marina Yacht Club Sailing School will make the journey to Tokyo later this month to represent their country at the prestigious Games.
Those athletes are Aly Badawi from Egypt, Jalise Jordan from Antigua, and Vishnu Saravannan and Nethra Kumanan from India.
And while these sailors chose to make Malta their second home, one wonders what is stopping Maltese sailors from reaching the pinnacle of sporting events.
“The goal is to inspire the upcoming generation in Malta by having our sailing school surrounded by Olympic athletes,” Denisiuc continued. “We have a lot of potential but they don’t look at this path as a career.”
“The Olympic movement isn’t very strong. It’s one of the toughest events in the world and requires a lot of dedication and work, but with the right guidance and approach it is achievable,” he said.
But what is preventing Maltese sailors from reaching their full potential?
“There are a lot of distractions for local kids. Once they reach the age of 15, they start to go into party mode and this distraction doesn’t allow them to stay dedicated to one sport,” he said.
“I hope this culture will change and they will be proud of representing Malta at the highest level. The mentality right now is that it’s tough and impossible, but we have great facilities and conditions to practice,” Denisiuc ended.
Hosting the send-off was Yachting Malta Chairman John Huber who emphasised that this was part of Yachting Malta’s efforts to nurture the island as an international hub for sailing.
“You’re starting a journey and whatever you do, wherever you arrive, keep Malta in your heart,” he addressed the four athletes.
RMYC Commodore David Cremona was also present and conveyed his pride in being associated with this initiative that supported these athletes.
While Malta won’t be represented in sailing at the Olympics, the island will be sending five athletes to the Games in the disciplines of indoor pistol shooting, swimming, badminton, weightlifting and track and field.
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