‘This will allow me to go abroad and classify, but it also makes me feel accepted and validated as an athlete’
Malta’s very own blade runner has been granted the financial help he needs to attempt to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics after his story touched a former athlete living in Malta.
Antonio Flores, 28, was born with clubfoot, which led to his leg being amputated two years ago. He eventually got a prosthesis, allowing him to continue pursuing his passion for athletics.
Flores has been trying to raise the money he needs to cover the expenses associated with trying out for the Tokyo Olympics and thanks to the contribution of Paola Catalfamo, he has now achieved his goal.
Prof. Catalfamo, the chairman of Global Capital, who is based in Malta, was Italy’s 400m running champion for under-18s. He had also taken part in the European Championships and was meant to participate in the Olympics, but his dreams were dashed because of an injury.
“This means more than people might think,” a visibly emotional Antonio told Lovin Malta
“The obvious aspect is that this will allow me to go abroad and get classified, which is the first step in qualifying for the Paralympic Games,” Antonio said. “But another aspect which is is not as obvious is that it makes me feel accepted and validated as an athlete. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for us para athletes.”
“I could see myself at his age,” said Professor Catalfamo, who has since completed three triathlons as running remains close to his heart
“Running was my life and I sacrificed a lot for it,” he continued. “But the joy of improving my performances and exceeding my limits always made it worth it.”
“Antonio has an even bigger challenge and his strength and determination not only to train every day but also to collect the funds to make his dream possible touched me deeply,” Prof Catalfamo finished.
Flores required €2,000 to pass the first leg to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics
Before he makes it, he has to undergo an assessment process in Paris this August where he will also need to meet the stipulated timings to qualify for the competition.
Flores is aiming to compete in the 100m and 200m races. His current timings are just under 13 seconds (he needs to run at 12.20 seconds to qualify) in the 100m race and 26 seconds (he needs to run at 25.50 seconds to qualify) in the 200m. He is confident he’ll manage these timings as he will be switching to a more advanced blade for his leg and plans to attend a number of training camps around Europe before August.
The amount donated by Prof. Catalfamo will cover everything from the specialised training equipment to training camps.