A sign of the continuous evolution of Maltese athletics is the increasing breadth of events covered by local athletes who are now hitting highly respectable results in competitions that up till a couple of years back struggled to attract a decent field.
Having just experienced some great results in the 400m hurdles, Daniel Saliba falls squarely into that category. That he was going to be a trailblazer in this event was clear from early on.
“I was always told that I have a really good physique to run hurdles,” he says.
“My coach had encouraged me to try the 400mH and see whether it was for me. With only a few training sessions on hurdles I went for my first race and did pretty well.
“Even so, for a long period of time I didn’t focus on this event, I was more focusing on building my speed and power. Still my coach used to encourage me to run it and it was in June 2012 where I broke the first national record for both juniors and open categories.”
“It was a great motivational boost for me,” he added, and so it should be.
This event has helped me build an enormous amount of mental strength and toughness
During this year he has broken three Malta records which is in itself a source of pride. There is no secret for this success other than hard work.
“I worked very hard from the first training session of this season and I was completely committed,” Saliba said.
“I knew I was doing everything I could to be in the best shape I could possibly be in this season, so I was expecting to have such results because that is what I was aiming for and believed I could achieve.
“What I was surprised with is that I managed three records in three consecutive competitions over the period of three weeks which I was confronted with very bad weather conditions in all three runs. This gives me confidence that there is still more in me to run even better times this season.”
This might seem an easy progression but there is an intrinsic difficulty on to the event that should not be discounted.
“The 400m hurdles is considered to be one of the toughest events in athletics,” Saliba explained.
“Having said that, to be able to run and do well you need to train yourself both physically and mentally. This event has helped me build an enormous amount of mental strength and toughness.
“Being able to run and perform well in this event has boosted my confidence to perform well in other events on the track and also in my life outside the track, and I love and thrive on that confidence. Apart from that it has improved my strength endurance which will help me overall as an athlete.”
As a result of his efforts Saliba is among a select group of athletes who have already qualified for the Games of the Small Sates of Europe as well as the European Championships Third League that will be organised in Malta between June 24 and 25.
“Representing Malta on our home track is always a great honour,” Saliba said.
“Having a great deal of support will surely help me perform better in front of all my family and friends.”
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