Mario Aquilina has failed to improve his position in the Laser Class standings despite obtaining his best finish in the first of two regattas held yesterday.

At the end of the fourth day of competition, the Maltese sailor was 39th among 42 sailors to retain his overnight position.

Yet, his hopes of moving up the ladder looked bright after Aquilina placed 21st in the seventh of the 11-race series, his best performance so far on the Athens waters. Aquilina's highest finish in a single race before yesterday was 26th, recorded in race four.

This result temporarily enabled Aquilina to climb one place in the standings with 188 points along with Stanley Tan Khekn Siong of Singapore. However, in the following race, Aquilina could only manage a 40th-place finish to slip back to 39th on 228 points.

Sydney silver medallist Robert Scheidt of Brazil regained the lead after Austria's Andreas Geritzer had surged in front on Wednesday. The Brazilian has 39 penalty points, three less than Geritzer.

The Laser event resumes today with two more regattas.

Blake in action today

Meanwhile, Tanya Blake will be the first Maltese athlete to run on the Athens athletics racetrack when she takes part in heat six of the women's 800 metres event.

Blake, who last year became the first Maltese athlete to qualify for the Olympics by her own merit after clocking 1:59.56 (national record) in a meeting in Oregon, US, will have to contend with some tough opposition if she is to qualify for tomorrow's semi-finals. The top three athletes from each heat and the six fastest losers progress to the next round.

Blake's opponents today are Hazel Clark (US), Tatyana Andrianova (Russia), Nelly Mankatu Biche (Ivory Coast), Anita Bragger (Switzerland), Sletana Ait Hammou (Morocco) and Zulla Calatayud (Cuba).

Of the seven runners in Blake's heat, only Mankatu Biche has run slower than the Maltese athlete's season best of 2:03.81. However, only three athletes in the heat have a personal best better than Blake's 1:59.56.


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