What a summer this has been for Luke Bezzina.
Having run 100m in 10.68secs at the National Championships last June, his season had apparently come to a close on a high note.
That, in fact, was the fastest he had ever run the sprint distance and, even though he did not come out as the winner, there had been real intensity in the race.
Having achieved his ambition for the year he got ready for a period of rest after a hard season.
Those plans were put to the side when an e-mail arrived informing him that, given Kevin Moore’s pending doping case, he had been chosen to represent Malta at the Rio Olympics.
“It was a surprise,” he recalls.
“I had to restart training at a quick pace in order to get to Rio in the best shape possible.”
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough and a run of 11.04secs did not see him advance into the first round proper. Even so, Bezzina returned home something of a changed man.
“The whole experience was a revelation,” he said, searching for words to adequately describe his period at the Olympics Village in Rio.
“I got to see how the world’s finest athletes prepare and that blew my mind. I met the likes of Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell and I also had a chat with Maurice Greene who is one of my sports heroes.”
If the impression is that Bezzina was star struck, think again.
“I realised that these are people like me who dedicate their life to athletics,” he said.
“Everything they do is centred around athletics and everything is designed to ensure that they perform at the best. I wouldn’t say that I wasn’t determined – because I was – but all this has given me an added impetus.”
This realisation has forced him to re-evaluate his own training regime.
“At the moment, I train two hours at six in the morning, go to work for eight hours and then train for another two hours. It is far from ideal if you want to improve and reach certain levels. You need to focus on training only to do that.”
Which is exactly what he plans to do. For three months, he is going to put his life on hold to go to Loughborough University where athletics will be the main objective.
“Loughborough offers the best sports facilities in the UK,” Bezzina explained.
“There, I will have everything I need to properly train for athletics. At the Olympics I made a number of contacts which is how this came about.
“I will be able to train with Martyn Rooney and even though he competes in the 400m, for sure I will be able to learn a lot from a man who has an Olympic bronze medal and was the European champion. I want to give it a real go to see how much I can improve if my preparation is similar to that of professional athletes.”
All this will provide an ideal base when the season kicks off again.
“Next year there’s the GSSE so that will a target for me along with the World Championships. I won’t be taking in much of an indoor season and instead the focus will be the outdoor.”
That, however, isn’t the extent of his ambitions. Indeed, his ultimate target is far grander.
“I’ve learned from this summer’s experience,” Bezzina said.
“I won’t be caught wanting ever again and next time I will keep on training so that if an opportunity comes along I will be ready. I’m determined that I will be at the next Olympics. And my aim is to really make a mark.”
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