Malta Amateur Athletics Association (MAAA) president Edwin Attard has expressed his satisfaction at the performance of Team Malta in the inaugural European Games in Baku, saying that, at the end of the two days of competition, the pre-set target of ninth place (out of 14 federations) in the team rankings of the European Third League was reached after a close tussle with tenth-placed Montenegro.
Attard thanked all the members of the Maltese squad for their contribution and commitment.
Maltese athletes set four national records, two national junior marks and a spate of personal and seasonal bests in Azerbaijan.
The MAAA chief singled out the performances of Rebecca Camilleri, Janet Richard and Charlotte Wingfield which saw all three female Maltese athletes climb into the top European rankings for their event and category.
“Rebecca Camilleri’s second place in the long jump with a leap of 6.38 metres puts her in the top 50 in Europe for her event,” Attard said.
“Furthermore, Janet Richard’s new national junior record of 55.08 in the 400m means that she is currently eighth in the Under-18 European rankings. Charlotte Wingfield’s national record in the 100m of 11.69 seconds puts her in 25th place in the European Under-23 rankings for the 100m.”
Attard was also particularly pleased with the national record set by the 4x100m women’s team.
“The women’s quartet that consisted of Sarah Busuttil, Richard, Rachel Fitz and Wingfield fulfilled my belief and that of the MAAA technical staff that this group could set a new national record and this is exactly what they managed to achieve in Azerbaijan,” Attard said.
In Attard’s opinion, the national records established by Marilyn Grech in the 400m hurdles and Mona Lisa Camilleri in the 3,000m steeplechase, together with their honourable placings, confirm the efforts of the MAAA and its coaches in branching out into events that to do date had little history in Maltese athletics.
Speaking about the performances of the male athletes, Attard gave special mention to Ian Paul Grech who, in the long jump, won 10 points for Malta with a personal best of 7.13m and Bradley Mifsud who set a new junior national record in the javelin with a strong throw of 62.67m.
“It is our belief that in the near future, Team Malta should aim to challenge countries such as Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Luxembourg,” Attard remarked.
“In order to do this, it will not be enough to have star performers of the likes of Wingfield, Kevin Moore (who was unavoidably absent in Baku for family reasons), Richard and Camilleri but it will be important to have a greater number of athletes who manage to challenge for the mid-table positions.”
In this regard, Attard referred to the progress made by the male distance runners, all of whom managed to finish eighth.
Darren Mangion and Andrew Grech recorded personal bests of 8:53.75 and 15.20.30 in the 3,000m and 5,000m, while in the 3,000m steeplechase, Mark Herrera ran an intelligent race to snatch eighth place in a final time of 9:41.86.
Attard is convinced that, for many of the athletes, Azerbaijan was an unforgettable experience and for this reason he thanked the Maltese Olympic Committee for choosing to send a full team and accepting the selection criteria drawn up by the MAAA Technical Commission.
Finally, Attard expressed hope that the success achieved by the national team athletes in Azerbaijan and the Iceland GSSE will give added value to the authorities’ commitment towards the upgrading of the facilities at the Marsa Athletic Track.
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