European Kids Athletics GamesMonday, September 13, 2010, 11:56
With the end of the athletics season virtually over and with local sport concerned mostly with aquatic activities, it may surprise some to learn that a group of youngsters has been busy throughout summer getting ready to do battle on the track and field away from our shores.
The Malta Amateur Athletics Association, in fact, has now passed a successful decade enabling emerging talent to get the opportunity to test performance against other youngsters from across the continent, in a competition of international stature. This year will be no exception, and after having opted for Wales last year, Athletics Malta, with the invaluable assistance extended by the Malta Council for Sport (KMS) who have once again made this initiative possible, will be returning to the European Kids Athletics Games. Held in the Czech Republic, this year between the 14th and 15th September in Olomouc and now at their fifth edition, these Games attract as much as 700 youngsters ranging from 11 to 15 years of age, hailing mainly from central Europe, although some contingents travel all the way from Scandinavia, the Baltics and the British Isles.
Held over two days, the program includes select disciplines and distances suitable to the age of the participants, with, for example, a 60m sprint instead of a 100m, 150m in lieu of the 200m and 300m preferred over the 400m distance. Over the years, many of Malta’s athletes now representing the nation at senior level have gone through this program and there is no doubt that the experience has proven to be beneficial. At this particular competition Malta has definitely left its mark, with Martina Xuereb remaining in the record books with her performance of 40.02 seconds in the 300m, when, incidentally, in that inaugural year 2006, she was also awarded the best technical performance overall. The year 2006 also saw our 15 year-olds, a quartet composed of Martina and her sister Francesca, Dorianne Micallef and Rebecca Sare, establishing a Games record for the 4 x 60m relay in a time of 30.47 seconds.
To continue with these and other successes obtained at these Games, this year’s contingent shall feature four 13 year-olds, six a year older and another two born in 1995. A total of six boys and six girls who this year have made a name for themselves with their performances, especially Eric Borg Saywell and Nicole Gatt, who broke quite a few National Records between them in the younger, Cadet category.
The other cadets will be Samwel Zammit and Gabriella Grima. From the Youth category, Athletics Malta will be represented by Kurt Dalli, Kevin Debono, Bradley Mifsud and Benji Fenech Salerno from among the boys with Clarissa Cremona, Sarah D’Alessandro, Rachel Fitz and Thalia Massa representing the girls. Looking after the contingent will be Ms Valerie Farrugia MAAA Council Member and Mr Joseph Farrugia, a qualified Area Technical Official of the international athletics body and current President of Savio Athletic Club.