With less than two weeks until the Olympic Games, Malta is preparing to send six of its finest athletes to compete in Tokyo across several sporting disciplines.
Out of the six Olympians, four will be heading to the prestigious games for the first time, with Eleanor Bezzina having represented Malta at Rio 2016 and Andrew Chetcuti at Rio 2016 and London 2012.
However, Tokyo 2020 presents a new and unprecedented challenge for all athletes heading up, with the COVID-19 pandemic introducing a set of new strict protocols which mean athletes won’t be able to mingle with others or perform in front of a crowd.
Nonetheless, a lot is to be expected from the six local athletes heading to Tokyo, including the breaking of national records, personal bests and perhaps even a medal.
Before they head off on their hunt for Olympic glory, here’s a rundown of the six athletes representing Malta.
Carla Scicluna – Track and Field
100-metre national champion Carla Scicluna is the only track and field athlete to represent Malta at this year’s Olympic Games.
It has been an eventful year for the 20-year-old athlete who secured a spot at the European Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland, earlier this year but was unable to compete after contracting COVID-19.
Scicluna will be competing in the 100-metre race in Tokyo on 30th July.
Matthew Abela – Badminton
For the first time ever, Malta will send an athlete up to the Olympics to represent the country in the sport of badminton.
A pioneer in his sport, Abela holds the title of men’s singles national champion and spends most of his time training out of Denmark.
He is just one of two male athletes making the trip up to Tokyo this year and will be hitting the court on 24th July.
Eleanor Bezzina – Indoor Pistol Shooting
Making her second appearance at the Olympics is indoor pistol shooter Eleanor Bezzina. The Maltese athlete picked up the sport in 2009 and since won golds and silver at the Games of the Small States of Europe.
She also represented Malta at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and will be competing in the 10m and 25m indoor shooting events in Tokyo.
Bezzina will be competing on 25th July.
Andrew Chetcuti – Swimming
Based in the United States, Andrew Chetcuti is Malta’s most experienced athlete heading to Tokyo after competing in the London Olympics in 2021 and Rio Olympics in 2016.
He holds five individual national records and two in relays and is a specialist in freestyle and butterfly.
Chetcuti will be competing on 27th July.
Sasha Gatt – Swimming
At 16-years-old, Sasha Gatt is Malta’s youngest athlete competing in the Olympics this year. The young and talented swimmer has broken numerous national records this year, many of which she had set, including most recently at the European Junior Championships in Rome where she clocked a time of 16:50.47 in the 1,500 metre freestyle.
Gatt will be competing in the 400-metre and 1,500-metre events in Tokyo.
Yazmin Zammit Stevens – Weightlifting
Last but not least is Yazmin Zammit Stevens, who is the first female athlete to represent Malta in weightlifting at the Olympics. She will be competing in the 64kg women’s category.
Earlier this year, Zammit Stevens set two national records in the Snatch at the European Championships in Russia.
In preparation for the Olympics, the weightlifter spent time training with the national team abroad in Italy, Slovenia and Latvia with a recent five-week stint in Romania.
Zammit Stevens will be competing on 27th July.
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