For many athletes, the recently-concluded Rio Olympics marked the end of years of effort and preparation.
For others, however, they strengthened their commitment to work harder than ever before.
Francesca Borg falls in the latter category. Asked the usual question as to what lies ahead for her during the coming year, she replied by talking about her ultimate ambition.
“My aspirations go well beyond 2017,” she said.
“The ultimate dream of every serious athlete is to qualify and compete in the most prestigious competition known to mankind, and, of course, I am no different.
“One day I hope to be on the start line at the Olympic Games, representing our beloved Malta.
“That, I’m sure, is the most amazing feeling an athlete can ever experience.”
This is quite a lofty ambition for an athlete who took up athletics when she was well in her teens.
“Since a very young age, I was always attracted to athletics but due to other commitments, I did not have the opportunity to start training seriously,” Borg recalled.
“At the age of 16, after finishing my ‘O’ level examinations, I finally decided to do something tangible about my lifelong dream and started training with my current coach Mario Micallef.
“Since then, training simply became an addiction and I never looked back, even in the toughest of times.”
That is reflected in her current training schedule.
“During the season, I train after work from five in the evening onwards, Monday to Friday, and during the weekend I train in the morning.
One day I hope to be on the start line at the Olympic Games, representing our beloved Malta. That, I’m sure, is the most amazing feeling an athlete can ever experience
“When my schedule entails double sessions, I do my morning session very early before work, which is very demanding.”
Training intensity also varies depending on which period of the season she’s in and particularly if there are races coming up, of which there have been plenty in recent months.
Having initially focused on the shorter sprints, Borg has since moved to the 800m.
“Currently, my favourite distance is the 800m,” she said before adding: “This is because you need plenty of speed endurance to run an 800m race – it’s almost like a ‘longer sprint’, therefore it is a serious test of strength, power, determination, and most importantly, speed.
“You may possess the talent to win a race but if you haven’t thought it through properly, you won’t win, therefore your mental attitude and tactical preparation for the race are incredibly important.
“It’s a tough, tactically challenging race, and this is what makes it so exciting.”
Despite this professed love for the 800m, she still has a lot of time for the 400m as it gave her “the opportunity to wear the national kit for the first time at an international event, back in 2013 during the Games of the Small States of Europe in Luxembourg”.
It was quite a debut as she was in the women’s team that won the bronze medal in the 4x400m relay.
“Winning a medal for my country during my first international competition was definitely an amazing experience and a moment which I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Borg remarked.
“The feeling you get on the podium is by far the most priceless and irreplaceable feeling ever.”
Another crack at those Games are at the top of her mind for the coming year even if her ultimate ambitions are higher.
“Having goals is what keeps you committed and completely dedicated to what you do, and my main goal for 2017, like each and every season, is to keep on improving on my performances and results,” she explained.
“I also aspire to continue competing for my country and keep on making each competition abroad a lifetime experience.
“In doing so, I hope to make the public, the MAAA, the MOC, SportMalta, and finally but not least, my personal coach and also my sponsors, even more proud of me.”
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