Another Games for the Small Nations is around the corner and once again, as has been the norm over the last 20 odd years, Malta’s Champion club, our own Pembroke Athleta, will be providing the bulk of the athletics squad, in fact a full one third.
Our stalwart at these Games – her presence spanning nearly all the years since the turn of the century – will be the vintage Lisa Marie Bezzina who, despite lately entering the Masters category, is still posting ‘personal bests’ at her specialty in the long distance events; no doubt brought about by her ability to cover ground, seemingly effortlessly, with her long rhythmic strides. Despite being a podium winner already, her thirst for glory and medals knows no bounds and the Club believes that she will be delivering the goods once again in San Marino.
On the track our other representative will be Daniel Saliba in the longer hurdles event. Despite not having any of our traditional sprinters present – the selectors having opted not to believe in our strong 4 x 100m elements, against the recommendations of the Association – Daniel will be sailing over the 400m hurdles with an ease that this season saw him lower the National Record three times in the space of two weeks. Malta has not much history in hurdling, but it is the club’s conviction that Daniel can break this taboo.
What will be missing on the tartan track will be made up for in the Field events, jumps being our forte. Triple Jump National record holder, Rebecca Sare` will be building on her experience to defend her results in the Triple Jump, along with a participation also in the long jump. Rebecca is coming out of a series of handicaps, with a major injury and other injuries which she picked up on her way that has seen her performances – and participation – suffer considerably. However this is a girl that is deceptively steely and her determination to succeed will again push her to the limits hopefully enabling her retain the well-deserved hardware. At the same discipline, and practically similarly bogged down, Ian Paul Grech will need to rely on experience as much as his meticulous preparation, with once again the Triple Jump being his cavallo di battaglia. Our belief in these jumpers rests also on the fact that our own renowned coach Jivko Jetchev will be there to guide and inspire them, as he will be doing with our other jumper, this time one to scale the heights in the Pole Vault. Her name being Peppijna Dalli, it may not come as a surprise to realise that this young prodigy in athletics is actually a previous presence at these Games, having had her share of competition in gymnastics with a good measure of success. Buoyant from having established a National Record this year, she will be looking forward to raise the bar further towards the sky, and it will certainly be no surprise to the Club that we see her take the podium.
Last but certainly not least, on the Field will be another National Record holder, her latest this year taking her well past the qualifying standard set by the selectors. In her specialty the Javelin Throw, Joanne Vella brings out a remarkable forward power from her arm that propels the implement to scale heights and seemingly hover in defiance of gravity. To the club, her achievements are all the more significant because this is an athlete that like Lisa on the track, is ever thirsty for more, despite a presence in athletics that spans quite a few years.
While the Club roots wholeheartedly for these valiant athletes, our best wishes also go out to the other 12 athletes in the contingent, who in the athletics fraternity offer to each other unreserved support and the encouragement to go forward faster, longer and higher. Good luck to all, our hearts minds and good luck wishes go with you.
Lisa Marie Bezzina
Ian Paul Grech