Malta’s most recent Sportswoman of the Year, weightlifter Yazmin Zammit Stevens, spends seven to eight hours a day training in a gym, preparing for a series of events in the run-up to the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.
Ms Zammit Stevens, 25, recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in maths and statistics but did not opt for a run-of-the-mill, nine-to-five desk job. Instead, she dedicated herself full-time to the gym “with the aim of accomplishing some big goals”.
In the past two years, she has broken the national record over 70 times and is the first Maltese woman ever to lift 100 kilograms above her head.
“The Olympics are the greatest multi-sport games an athlete can dream of participating in. They are also one of the toughest games to qualify for,” she told the Times of Malta.
She was the first Maltese woman to go to the European Championships, where she finished 15th overall. She competed at the World Universiade Games in Taipei and placed 19th overall, and very recently, she managed to qualify for the final for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, where she placed seventh overall.
Getting to the Olympics would not only make me proud but would be an accomplishment for my country
Ms Zammit Stevens said she was preparing for the World University Championships on September 23 in Poland. It will serve as a preparatory event for the world championships.
Fellow weightlifter Rodmar Pulis will also be competing at the same event. This is the first time Malta has athletes competing there.
In October, she will fly to Italy for a three-week training session with the Italian national team, organisedby her coach, Jesmond Caruana.
After that she’ll be off to Turkmenistan for the World Championships 2018, officially the first qualifying event for Tokyo 2020.
“As you can imagine, all these sporting events cost money. I’m lucky enough to be getting some financial help from the Malta Weightlifting Association, the Malta Olympic Committee and Sport Malta but it does not cover the full costs,” she said.
She estimates she will need about €4,000 to cover the difference, so she started a crowdfunding campaign to collect the necessary funds to fulfil her dream.
As of Wednesday, she had managed to collect €2,235.
The financial help will go towards flights, accommodation and competition fees in Poland and Turkmenistan as well as flights, accommodation, food and coaching fees with renowned international coach Tamas Feher at the training camp in Rome.
She had words of praise for her team, including physiotherapist Julian Rizzo Naudi, all the staff at Planet Physio and her coach, who kept her mentally focused.
“I have two years of preparation left and we’ve already started the journey to get there. Coming from a small nation where weightlifting, especially for women, has only started becoming popular in the last few years, getting to the Olympics would not only make me proud but would be an accomplishment for my country,” she said.
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