A total of 31 Maltese athletes have made the trip up to Cyprus to compete in the European Championships.
Malta will go head-to-head against larger nations such as Serbia and Georgia in the third league, with the likes of reigning world indoor champion Ivana Španović present for the competition as nations compete for one of three promotion slots made available for next season’s tier.
The crucial competition poses an even bigger challenge for Maltese athletes who were denied their regular training regime for most of the year following a number of government COVID-19 regulations.
“It’s been tough trying to prepare for competition over the past few months due to the restrictions,” said national record holder long jumper Jeremy Zammit.
“Luckily enough, Athletics Malta together with my club Pembroke Athleta has given us the opportunity to go abroad four times prior to this event to help us prepare,” he said.
Zammit will be competing in the long jump and 4 x 100m relay over the weekend. Malta’s contingent is made up of athletes of all ages, with the youngest being 17 and the eldest being 45.
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Athletics Malta underwent a process of reorganising its national team structure to optimise athletes’ performance, including the recruitment of a number of local and international coaches.
“This year we adopted a system where national team selections were training together every couple of weeks since September 2020,” said national relay coach Rebecca Sare.
“The final four ladies travelling to the championships have been practicing their changeover regularly, so I’m positive that they are fully prepared,” she said.
In addition to athletes, a number of event coaches, a technician committee representative, a physio, a doctor and three masseurs will make the trip up to the European Championships in Limassol.
“Despite the challenges that we faced over the past months, we believe we have invested significant time, energy and funds to push for one of the three promotion spots for next year’s edition,” said Athletics Malta President Andy Grech.
“Although Malta faces stiff opposition, I believe we have one of the strongest teams Maltese athletics has had in the past 20 years,” he said.
The European Championships provide local athletes with the opportunity to put their skills to the test and gauge their competitiveness before the highly-anticipated 2023 Games of the Small States of Europe hosted in Malta.
Just last week, Malta Olympic Committee President Julian Pace Bonello was appointed as President of the GSSE – a role he will occupy for a period of two years.
Meanwhile, a number of athletes are currently vying for a spot at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, including swimmer Sasha Gatt and runner Janet Richard. Badminton player Matthew Abela and indoor pistol shooter Eleanor Bezzina have already qualified.
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