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Malta’s gold medallists to receive €10,000 bonus

SportMalta CEO Mark Cutajar.

Maltese athletes were given a significant incentive to win the gold medal in their discipline at the 2023 Games of the Small States of Europe after Maltese Olympic Committee president Julian Pace Bonello announced that they will receive a bonus of €10,000.

The announcement was made during a press briefing during which the Maltese Olympic Committee gave the latest update on the current preparations for the biennial Games that will be held on our islands between May 29 and June 4.

“We’ve held talks with the government and Sport Malta in recent weeks about the bonuses to be awarded to Team Malta’s medal winners during the Games,” Pace Bonello said.

“We came to an agreement with Dr Clifton Grima and Sport Malta that Maltese gold medal winners in the Games will receive €10,000. This is without doubt the highest amount ever received by Maltese athletes in the GSSE and hopefully we will have many of them during the week-long Games.”

Pace Bonello said that preparations for the Games were moving forward and had no doubts that the GSSE will leave a lasting legacy in Malta.

“Sport can be a major force for positive change, and I firmly believe that the Games of the Small States of Europe can be a strong force which will leave a long-lasting legacy to our island,” said Pace Bonello.

“As president of the Maltese Olympic Committee, I can assure the team’s commitment to continue strengthening the good relations we have and to work closely with the Maltese media to ensure they have the necessary support to spread the GSSE message.”

On his part, SportMalta CEO Mark Cutajar spoke about the huge investment that was put in for the Games.

“The 2023 GSSE is a major event for everyone involved in Malta and it’s no surprise that we have invested heavily not only in terms of infrastructure but also in the technical preparation of our athletes,” Cutajar said.

“We have allocated €5million towards training programmes for athletes aiming to be part of Team Malta, and a further €60milion were devoted the refurbishment of existing facilities as well as the construction of new ones.

These facilities do not only comply with international standards but were overhauled to ensure that they offer athletes the best possible experience.”

Cutajar then announced the venues for the ten disciplines to be held during the games, with the Matthew Micallef St John Stadium in Marsa hosting the athletics events, the National Pool in Tal-Qroqq will host the swimming competitions, with the Olympic-size pool in Cottonera used only should bad weather hits the islands during the Games.

The tennis and squash tournament will be held at the Marsa Sports Club while the rugby 7s matches will be held at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

The Mistra Bay will host the sailing competitions while the shooting competitions will be split in two venues, with the indoor competitions at the Kirkop Sports Complex while the other shooting events will be organised in Ta’ Kandja.

Judo will be held at the National Sports School while table tennis will be played at the University Sports Complex.

“Since we officially launched the Games a year ago, the number of hours put in by the volunteers in preparation for these Games have been immeasurable,” Cutajar said.

“All this is being done to ensure that all the delegations will have a memorable experience in Malta. As we reach the 100-day mark, there is still a lot of work to be done, but am confident that the Games will be extraordinary.”

Charlene Attard, the MOC Director of Sport, spoke about the athletes’ technical preparation.

“At the moment there is a fierce competition among the athletes to win a place on the Malta contingent for the Games,” Attard said.

“There is a qualification system in place for every discipline that got under way last year. Those athletes that reached the Minimum Qualifying Standard last year will have to prove that they have kept the same level of competitiveness this year before they receive the green light to form part of the team.

“One major factor that is developing in recent weeks is that we have a growing number of veteran athletes and others who have returned to their sport that are showing a lot of promise and are battling for a spot in these Games.”

Maltese passport

Attard confirmed that the MOC are looking to include a number of foreign-based athletes in the Malta team.

“We are currently discussing a number of athletes with the prospect of handing them a Maltese passport so that they can form part of our team,” Attard said.

“In rugby 7s, table tennis and basketball we are looking at various options and a decision will be made on whether they will be granted the chance to be part of our contingent.

“Our goal is to have a contingent of 240 athletes and for us these Games are one of our biggest challenges. The fact that the last edition of the GSSE was not held makes it difficult to gauge the strength of our opponents but our goal remains that to attain our best ever result in a GSSE.”

On his part, Dr Clifton Grima, the Minister for Education and Sport, emphasised on the importance of these Games which also had to leave a legacy for future generations.

“The Government, the Maltese Olympic Committee and SportMalta were brought together to ensure that Malta could host successful Games,” Dr Grima said.

“Millions have been invested in sports, infrastructure, tens of millions have been invested in our athletes as well as investment in those ten sport disciplines that will be, as well as a long-term agreement with the Maltese Olympic Committee.”

The 2023 GSSE are sponsored by the Government of Malta, Sport Malta, National Development Social Fund, European Olympic Committees, Ministry for Tourism, MITA, AIMS, National Lottery, Wellbee’s Supermarkets, ATOS and General Soft Drinks.

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