Gozitan athlete Francesco Caruana representing Malta in the Czech Republic

Monday, August 27, 2012, 19:00

Over the past years the athletics community in Gozo has grown thanks to a number of young athletes who decided to take on the sport despite not having a track on which to train on their home Island.  The athletes have made use of other facilities made available to them by the Gozitan sporting community such as the Nadur and Sannat synthetic football grounds and the Ta’ Xhajma horse racing track.  They have been encouraged to participate in as many competitions in Malta as possible and despite the difficulties, some of them have done so with great success.  Andrea Schwaiger and Jolene Debattista have been regulars in the female events whilst Christoph Schwaiger and Francesco Caruana were regulars in the male events.

The 14 year old Qala born Francesco was recently selected by the Malta Amateur Athletics Association to represent Malta in the Czech Republic at an International Meeting in Bruno.  One of his coaches, Paul Camilleri, noted with great satisfaction that despite the difficulties Francesco managed some good results.  “We have been following a number of athletes over the past years.  Francesco has great determination and we are really happy for him.  He has made history for Gozo.”  On his part Francesco noted, “There is a huge difference between training on the dirt track at Ta’ Xhajma and training on a rubber surface like Marsa.  However, I am very motivated and if I have the talent to achieve better results, such difficulties will not deter me from training to achieve my goals.”

Mario Bonello, who just returned from the London Olympics as the Athletics Coach, noted the determination of athletes like Francesco and Andrea.  “They even come all the way from Gozo to Marsa to train with my training group.  Of course they are inspired by the athletes in my group like Diane Borg.  It is now the turn of their Gozitan peers to get inspired by athletes like Francesco and take up the sport in Gozo.  Unlike team sports, athletics gives you a personal challenge to better yourself.”

Both Paul and Mario, who set up Athletix Gozo in 2007, realise that without the right venue it is difficult for athletics to gain the momentum they wish it gathers.  They noted that a full size 400m track and its ancillary facilities (such as sand pit and throwing areas), is needed.  Asked whether a small 200m track could do the trick they replied in the negative.  “Those tracks are only adequate for kids to try athletics for fun.  Once they start running quick, like some of our kids, they would not be able to negotiate the tight bends.  What is needed is a full size facility, possibly with less lanes.”

With Gozitan athletes starting to make the grade and with a number of National athletics training camps already being organised in Gozo over the past years, it is hoped that more Gozitan youth will take the challenge and try out athletics.  Francesco Caruana has shown one and all that it can be done!

Athletix Gozo can be reached via mail athletixgozo@gmail.com on Mob 7956 4861, or though the website www.sprintmalta.com

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