The amazing Yazmin Zammit Stevens has surpassed her own expectations by taking home an individual gold medal at the 41st Weightlifting European Small Nations Tournament, a first for Malta to win a gold medal in this category.
After the competition which was hosted in Malta yesterday, Zammit Stevens said: “This is definitely an experience I’ll never forget, a first small nations gold medal and I did it on home soil in front of all my family and friends.”
This is Zammit Steven’s fourth time competing at this event. When she first competed three years ago, it was her first ever international championship and she finished individually at 5th place. In 2017 she managed to snag 4th place, she then managed 3rd place in 2018 and finally reached the top spot this year.
Malta competed against Iceland (the reigning champions), Cyprus, San Marino and Monaco. Each country sent out two women and three men. Malta’s entire team was made up of Yazmin Zammit Stevens, Roberta Tabona, Vlad Baldacchino, Anton Micallef and Shaun Ciantar.
The countries were competing for the top three individuals, and the men and women’s duo and men’s trio.
Speaking to Zammit Stevens after her epic win, she said that the level this year was particularly high, with every nation bringing their absolute A-game.
“I knew I had improved enough in the last year to have a chance at the gold and it came down to a few kilos, but I managed.”
Zammit Steven’s toughest challengers came from the women representing Iceland, who have been achieving top scores over the past few years.
Turning to the training she underwent in the run-up to the competition, Zammit Stevens said:
“I just came back from three weeks in Romania where I trained with their national team. One of the athletes is actually a world champion in my weight class.
“It was SO hard I can’t even explain. Not only was training obviously tough…but I found it mentally difficult to stay positive and strong.
“It was particularly hard because all the athletes are world class and absolute beasts, but no one spoke English and the complex we trained in was a bit secluded. We trained twice a day and I literally did nothing else for the entire three weeks. I could have been anywhere in the world because I didn’t see anything but the inside of that gym.”
Hard work pays off however and the young weightlifter certainly agrees.
“The sacrifices are definitely paying off though. My result yesterday is a reflection of the small improvements I managed to make while I was there. That 85kg snatch in particular, I have been chasing it for so long. Not only did I manage it but it felt so easy yesterdaday! So I’m super happy,” she said.
Zammit Stevens is not one to rest on her laurels however, quickly reminding herself that there is much more work to be done.
While other athletes were celebrating, she had an early night and woke up early Sunday morning for a mobility session. As though competing in the Weightlifting Championship was not difficult enough, Zammit Stevens will be taking part in an Olympic qualifier in two weeks’ time for the European Championships.
The Maltese female team came third in the group competition, with much cause for celebration as Malta’s football, rugby and weightlifting athletes all enjoyed a stellar performance over the weekend.