Rebecca Camilleri flies high in National Championships

Friday, June 11, 2010, 12:46

It has taken Rebecca Camilleri seven years to come of age in her favourite athletics discipline, the long jump, since first topping the charts in July 2003. Back then, still in her teens, her jumping showed such promise that it not only helped her enter into the record books, but also raised hopes that tiny Malta would soon possess a daughter that would demand respect on the international stage.

Rebecca Camilleri

Rebecca Camilleri

What ensued turned out to be a long wait, until last March, another promising jumper, Alessandra Pace, finally managed to exceed that psychological barrier, the six-metre span. It helped Rebecca in no small way that here at last was someone that could provide a healthy training environment – both are coached by the competent Jivko Jetchev – and local competition, in order that both athletes could progress further, urged on by each other’s performances. This was certainly the highlight of the National Championships this year when Rebecca Camilleri cleared a handsome 6.22 metres, going beyond the less than three-month standing record by 15 cm.

Records, indeed, seem in short supply lately, because during the two days of competition, no other championship marks were set, let alone National. However, another two new marks were indeed established, both in the under 20 years category. The first occurred on the first day when Marija Sciberras, who is still seventeen, completed the 100m hurdles sprint in a time of 14.88 seconds. Last year Marija had managed to do even better, but the wind behind her that time was past the legal limit.

The other record came about towards the end of the second day, in the Triple Jump, when Stephanie Alden had a legal effort measured at 11.55 metres, besides another that measured 11.61m, which unfortunately had to be discounted, again because of a strong following wind. The same befell Thomas Farrugia, whose excellent 200meters showing ending just that.

Meanwhile, Mario Bonello, who has remained such a force to reckon with after what seems like a lifetime, won this race in the best timing of the year. To prove that his was no fluke, he also won the 100m in a season’s best, heading off James D’Alfonso and Andy Grech. The latter cleared 6.95m to bag the long jump while James triumphed in his favourite one lap sprint in a good time of 49.88 seconds. Many other athletes improved on their showing this season, among whom Francesca Xuereb in the 400m, clocking 56.88 seconds.

Alister Vella Stiles displayed his comeback from injury, winning the Triple Jump, which event witnessed victorious Alessandra Pace among the women. Lisa Bezina did the double in the middle distance 800 and 1500metres, a similar feat recorded by Jonathan Balzan in the longer 5000 and 10000m, the latter organised in midweek. Now all eyes turn to the European Team Competition, where the pride of the nation takes on formidable opposition from fourteen other European countries. T

his will be another two day event. on the 19 and 20 June, hopefully encouraged by a sizeable crowd who will have a chance to be treated to international fare right on our own soil, at the Marsa Athletic Stadium.

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