Shannon Galea handed Malta its first ever European Championship appearance in Skeleton racing when the Canadian-born athlete was on the starting line of the prestigious competition in St Moritz on Friday.
The race in St Moritz formed part of the World Cup series organised by the International Bobsleigh Skeleton Federation but also served as a European Championship competition.
This was the first time that Galea was representing Malta in a European Championship and the race was her last major appointment before the Winter Olympics which will be held in Beijing next month.
Galea is one of three Maltese athletes who are vying to represent Malta at the Winter Olympics. The others are snowboarder Jenise Spiteri and Elise Pellegrin, who competes in Alpine Skiing.
On Friday, Galea took part in the first run of the European Championship event in St Moritz and she managed to complete the course in a time of one minute 13.55 seconds.
Her timing enabled her to finish in 24th place from 25 competitors. With the first 20 participants proceeding to the next round, Galea failed to progress.
“It’s an honour to be racing against some of the world’s best female athletes in this sport,” Galea said.
“It has been a lot of hard work to get to this point and preparation. I hope that this experience creates a new gateway for Maltese sports and to encourage more involvement in sport at all levels.”
Galea is being helped in her preparations by two former Canadian athetes who represented their country in the Winter Olympics. These are Michael Douglas who competed in the Games in 2010 and Elisabeth Maier in 2018.
Asked on her reaction for her performance on Friday, Galea said: “Yes I am happy with it given that I have only had 6 runs total when compared to athletes who have been in this sport for over 5 or so more years and several runs on this track,” Galea said. “The start is the trickiest as you can lose a lot of time in the straights.
“I’m more than happy that I had a personal best in my push and cut four seconds off of my training runs heading into today’s race.”