National Judo Team still without a proper place to trainFriday, August 10, 2012, 17:30
At every Olympic Games, the International Judo Federation selects 20 Judoka from the 200 judo federations around the world who did not qualify through the official qualification, but who still got noticed during the Olympiad. This list included our Marcon Bezzina who was on an Olympic Solidarity Fund and also was on the IJF World Ranking List. The IOC refused to include her as Malta had an average of 6.5 athletes. This average is calculated by taking the number of athletes who participated in the last two Olympic Games. Malta had 7 athletes in Athens and 6 in Beijing; therefore the Malta did not qualify for an invitation. This decision was a hard blow for Marcon, the Judo Federation and the MOC, as this meant that since the Olympic Games of Seoul in 1988, a Judoka was not part of the Maltese Olympic Team.
The Federation was not disheartened and although Malta is going through a heat wave, National Team Pool Training has continued under the leadership of the Sports Director Alex Bezzina. Daily gym and Judo training continues with sessions at Tal Qroqq Fitness Centre and at the Sargent’s Mess in Pembroke. The weights sessions in the air-conditioned National Swimming pool complex are no problem, but the training at Pembroke is another matter.
The Judo Federation recently acquired title from KMS to the two buildings where judo has always been practiced since the 41 Commando Group left it in 1975. The Federation and the Foundation made a lot of changes inside to provide better training conditions. The place was vandalised some years ago when it was burned and a year ago part of the roof caved in when part of a chimney on top of the Enemalta substation fell on the roof. All these mishaps did not discourage the Judo Community. They fixed it and continued. But now the inadequacy of the place is more obvious. Judo has become faster and stronger and the 70 square meters are no longer appropriate to train at international level. Anybody who stops by the Sargent’s Mess will be surprised how Judo managed to obtain such good results in such primitive conditions.
A project for an International Judo Centre prepared in the year 2000 is on hold pending the White Rocks Sport project. Whatever happens in that project does not solve the immediate requirements of the sport so the Malta Judo foundation embarked on a project which should provide adequate facilities to house the Malta Judo Academy and the ever increasing new young judoka and the Andrew Bertie Sport Science Institute recently launched. This Centre should also have place for the National Team Pool until the White Rocks Project becomes operable. Discussions with the sport authorities were encouraging and it is hoped that after more than 40 years in existence the sport of Judo will not remain the only Olympic Sport without appropriate facilities.