Malta celebrated a successful summer as its athletes made themselves and their country proud during the Commonwealth Games and the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF).
Following the end of events, the Malta Olympic Committee (MOC) expressed its satisfaction towards the progress made by the country’s athletes, most of which led to a Commonwealth Games Bronze medal in Judo for Katryna Esposito, and a EYOF Bronze in athletics for Matthew Galea Soler.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, MOC President Julian Pace Bonello said that despite the high level of both competitions, the Committee expected the best.
“From our contingents, we expected good results, even while considering the high level of these games,” Pace Bonello said.
“From the 29 athletes, almost every one of them had at least a win. We had a national record in athletics, a personal best and a bronze medal for Katya Esposito. In the EYOF, this year was historic as Matthew Galea Soler won bronze – the first we have ever won in such a competition.”
Esposito’s achievement made rounds on local media as the 21-year-old won Malta’s medal at the Games and the judoka hopes it will inspire others.
“It was a very nice experience,” Esposito said, “I’m very fortunate to be given this experience and I feel honoured to not only have represented Malta but also to have won a medal for my country.
“I hope it inspires the new generation of athletes coming up to continue to strive to do well in sport. Now I know on what areas I will have to work and hopefully I can continue on this path.”
While medals are the ultimate prize in Games such as these, MOC director of Sport Charlene Attard believes there is more to success than medals and that the committee is satisfied with the work being done, particularly in a year in which many tournaments were crammed into each other due to COVID-19 postponements.
“The satisfaction is great, especially from the fact that in every competition we took part we won a medal,” Attard told the Times of Malta.
“Due to COVID-19, the tournaments were compressed into each other, and we were forced to choose between them. We feel it was best to focus the athletes’ attention towards one of the Games and the results show we went in the right direction.
“Everybody looks at medals, but one must look also at the results. In every sport of the nine (which Malta took part in), there were wins and when there wasn’t we saw important battles for points.”
Asked about the next steps, Attard said the mentality has changed from one of participation to one of competition among the best.
‘We want to compete and win’
“Of course, all of the athletes have more space to grow. As a committee, we will be continuing to help them – the technical commission never stops working,” she explained.
“I would like to thank the athletes and coaches as because of their efforts, we have managed to reach these heights. In fact, we have changed our mentality – we want to compete not participate.
“Now we want to compete and win. I was also an athlete and I felt that every time I wanted to win. I understand that at the end of the day gold, silver, and bronze are the prizes and some sport is more difficult than others to win a medal. But to go and compete and make sure the opponent knows he has a fight on his hands against Malta is an inspiration even to our future athletes.”
Asked about the issue of having just one cyclist – Aidan Buttigieg – competing in this edition’s Commonwealth Games road race, the MOC believes it is not ideal however, “the future looks bright for cycling” as they aim to create a peloton for the coming Games.
“If we have enough to form a peloton, of course that is the plan. We have two upcoming riders, but we must see in what shape they will be in four years’ time.”
The Committee added that it is in the process of applying for citizenship for a number of athletes, including youth sailing starlets Victoria, Richard and Antonia Schulteis for future events.