There is hardly anyone who can recall a year, going back at least the last two decades, when a member, indeed members, of our glorious club Plembroke Athleta, were not among the list of awardees. It would not do justice if one were to name our heroes and miss anybody out, so no list is going to be offered on this occasion. However, besides certain persons still being active as athletes, there are also others among these heroes who are now dedicated coaches, some still ever-faithful to the club. Another winner, Charlene Attard, is a current Committee Member and a Director at the Malta Olympic Committee and Sport Malta, whose work to promote women in athletics – besides other tasks – has earned her recognition by our parent international Association, European Athletics, following her nomination by the MAAA.
Apart from Charlene, Angie Mangion is being singled out, not because others were not meritorious, but due to the fact that the list for 2017 focuses on achievements for which she was directly responsible. Olympian Charlene Attard will be awarded her above-mentioned prize in the ceremony and Coach Angie, a GSSE medal winner as Charlene, is to witness no less than three of her club athletes among our six winning recognition at this annual occasion.
Not to steal the limelight from any of our six, however, it is with pride that the Male athlete of the Year Award is going to Ian Paul Grech. A humble, easy-going person who knows no enemies, Ian has been around and a club member for a long time, rising to the top slowly but determinedly to reach this apex. His exploits in the jumps earned him medals at the GSSE and the European Championships, a regular place in the National Squad and countless other top awards, the National Championships among others. A regular presence at the Track, he also finds the time to train our fledgeling stars of tomorrow among the younger categories, at the same time as pursuing his tertiary education. Ian is trained by our devoted Sprints and Jumps Coach Jivko Jetchev, who we finally welcome as a compatriot, a Maltese National.
The next athlete to be awarded will be Carla Scicluna, the outstanding Under 18 athlete coached by Angie who challenged her seniors for a regular place in the National Squad among the sprinters, especially, in the shorter term, within the 4 x 100m relay team, for which she was a strong contender at the European Championships. Representing Malta at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Hungary, Carla did remarkably well in qualifying for the semis at the 200m and gain further on her international experience.
Coming to the Under 16 category one finds another two of Angie’s girls. With their talent seemingly boundless, sprinter Alessia Cristina showed her class by being the fastest at this age since Diane Borg, nearly emulating her coach by being selected to train with the Senior National Relay Squad, even as the selected foursome, with their experience, prevented her a regular spot. This did not deter this superb youngster who for her age showed one and all that she means business with her cool and methodical approach. Her performances at the European Kids Athletics Festival in the Czech Republic, where she hold Games’ Records in the sprints and relay are a testimony to this; exploits thus far never achieved by any Maltese girl. Angie’s other athlete is the tall, multi-sport performer Rachela Pace. A category all-time achiever in the High Jump, a conquering presence in the longer sprints and in the Long Jump, as well as an accomplished National choice in Female football, Rachela is just as determined as her friend Alessia to make the grade to the top. An ever presence in athletics with her one-only coach and club, Rachela started her quest practically a toddler, yet another of those valiant athletes that make Pembroke really proud by their long affiliation.
The last of the award winners are boys, both hailing from San Anton School and both showing the kind of temperament and dedication to make it to the Hall of Greats. Coached by Vladimir Doutchenkov, Sean Spiteri is a real flyer in the sprints and his exploits on the Track has left many an onlooker in excited admiration. If that weren’t enough Sean is also an accomplished long-jumper, and any of these disciplines, if not both, will be his hallmark in years to come. He was already awarded a category prize at this annual ceremony and it just goes to show that the performances he keeps amassing are a direct proof of his progress. Needless to say, Sean has also been a regular choice for the Czech competition, where in each year he participated, medals never went amiss. The youngest member of the Club to be awarded, Jeremy Zammit, is no less valiant and equally meritorious. One can say that his performances are a carbon copy of the achievements of his elder club-mate. Knowing no peers in the sprints, Jeremy was likewise dominant in the long jump, so much so that unlike the Under 16 category where the selectors debated long hours, this male Under 14 category was won hands down in a matter of minutes. Jeremy too in 2017 had his first taste of international competition in Brno, coming away with a medal at the first time of asking, in the Long Jump final. If there is a bright future ahead for any of our Pembroke athletes being awarded, that for Jeremy may indeed prove to be the brightest, surpassing perhaps those of his elder siblings, who are also carving their own niches in the Maltese sporting world. But that is another story altogether and on this occasion the Club salutes these athletes, shining stars that make the whole Club Proud to say: Thank you for Believing. We will be behind you for as long as it takes. Well done to all.
Ian Paul Grech
Alessia Cristina, coach Angie Mangion, Rachela Pace