After 20 years representing Malta at international deaf sports events, George Vella has decided to call it a day.
Just prior to his recent performance at the World Deaf Athletics Championships in Poland, in which he clocked a personal best in the 10,000 metre race, the 41-year-old athlete penned an open letter to his supporters.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement from representing Malta in Deaf Sports events soon after the international event organised by Deaflympics,” he said.
“After 20 years, since Deaflympics 2001 in Italy, I have dealt with too much mental and physical stress around competing in every event. Also struggling for sports equality locally is still a very tough challenge for a Maltese Deaflympian from a small country.”
Vella represented Malta at four editions of Deaflympics, an event sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee which sees deaf athletes compete at an elite level.
His best achievement was in 2015, when he won a silver medal at the European Marathon Championships.
“I put Malta in good reputation with my ethical responsibilities as an athlete and a Deaflympian with resiliency, competitiveness and pride,” he said in his open letter.
“Like the Olympic Games, it was an honour and a privilege to represent a small country and particularly the Maltese deaf community while running in the Maltese red kit during the deaf-sanctioned events of both the Deaflympics and the European Deaf Sports Organisation.”
“The community, together with local interpreting service of Lingwa tas-Sinjali Maltin, has been part of the spirit of fair play and accessibility, and I value the chance to integrate with deaf athletes from other countries.”
He added that he intends to keep contributing to the development of deaf sports in Malta, volunteering in the local deaf community and practicing sports locally.
Cover photos: George Vella (Facebook)
You can read the full letter here