GSSE · San Marino 2001
The 9th edition of these Games were hosted in San Marino where Malta broke all records and finished with the best-ever medals’ record since the GSSE inception in 1985.
The Maltese athletes confirmed that they where an equal, if not tough opponent; by walking away with 7 gold medals, 12 silver medals and 16 bronze medals. A total of 35 medals, our biggest haul of medals yet, as opposed to our last time in San Marino in 1985 with a total haul of 1 bronze medal. Our record stood at 5 gold medals in 1997, won at the Iceland Games, however we successfully managed to break this record with a total of 7 gold medals in these San Marino Games. Our athletes and their coaches definitely deserve a big well done.
For these Games, the MOC was able to send up Malta’s biggest representation with 153 athletes and delegates led by Malta Olympic Committee president Lino Farrugia Sacco. This would not have been possible without the support offered by Maltese Companies through various sponsorships and the assistance obtained from the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education.
The Opening Ceremony was held at the Serravalle Stadium where the International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch declared the Games open and stressed the importance of these Games for the participating countries helping them to strengthen their unity and cooperation. His presence also confirms the IOC’s acknowledgement of the importance of these Games. At the close of these Games the MOC’s President Mr. Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco was presented with the Games official flag in preparation for the hosting of the next edition.
The MOC’s dedication to creating new schemes which can help enhance athletes preparations such as the ‘elite athlete scheme’, the ‘aspirant scheme’ and the ‘non-resident scheme’, have proved to be beneficial in improving Maltese athletes competitiveness; by providing funding for overseas participation in competitions and financial incentives to exceed ones personal best confirms that this is the right track taken by the MOC to obtain the desired effects in Maltese sport.
The continuous improvement in the competitive level of these Games has resulted in forever increasing demands upon our athletes necessitating continuous progress and dedication to raise their standard. Our athletes worked hard for these Games and will be inspired to work harder especially as the next Games in 2003 will be hosted in Malta.
The Maltese contingent:
MOC: Lino Farrugia Sacco – President, Bertie Muscat – Vice President, Joseph Cassar – Secretary General, Philip Psalia – Chef De Mission, Peter Tortell – Ass. Chef De Mission, Marie Theresa Zammit – Ass. Chef De Mission, Kirril Micallef Stafrace – Medical Doctor, Lucienne Attard – Medical Doctor, Jane Attard – Physiotheraphist, John Xerri – Physioteraphist, Godfrey Formosa – Physiotheraphist, Adele Muscat – Pshycologist, Jan Huibers – Medical Personnel
The Athletes and Officials:
Athletics: Alexander Busutiil, Dierdre Farrugia, Lara Gerada, Karl Farrugia, John Buhagiar, Charmaine Sciberras, Rachid Chouhal, Mario Bonello, Carol Galea, Darren Gilford, Therese Mallia, Angie Mangion, Kevin Bezzina, Celine Pace, Mark Herrera, Robert Attard, Tanya Blake, Sue Spiteri. Mr. Vladimir Douchenkov, Mr. Donato Sabia, Mr. Edwin Attard – Official.
Judo: Michael Zahra, Jason Trevisan, Darren Casha, Laurie Pace, Tonio Schembri, Reuben Micallef, Michelle Grech, Mick Cutajar, Nathalie Galea. Mr. Envic Galea – President, Mr. John Zammit – Official, Mr. Serguei Teliouk – Coach.
Shooting: Philip Busuttil, Jesmond Fenech, Frans Pace, Noel Attard, Joe Genovese, William Chetcuti, Mario Abela, Anton Camilleri, Paul Vella, Raymond Cacciattolo, Mr. George Cassar – Official, Mr. Jimmy Bugeja – Coach, Mr. Salvu Portelli – Official.
Basketball: Omar Said, Abraham Portelli, Silvio Cassar, Julian Naudi, Duncan, Cuschieri, Etienne Bezzina, Stefan Farrugia, Michael Naudi, Adrian Micallef, Antoine Grech, Nathan Farrugia, Alan Borg, R. Azzopardi. Mr. Louis Azzopardi – Official, Mr. Joe Galea – Official, Mr Bernard Vassallo – Referee.
Bowls: Stefan Farrugia, Godfrey Sciberras, Pasquale Saliba, Anthony Debono, Mr. Victor Zahra – Official, Mr. Joseph Tonna – Coach.
Tennis: Lisa Camenzuli, Carol Cassar Torregiani, Helen Asciak, Mark Schembri, Marco Cappello, Gordon Asciak. Mr. Joseph Messina – Official, Mr. Paolo Da Silva.
Cycling: Jack Schiavone, Etienne Bonello, David Galea, Christopher Gatt, David Millar, Mr. John Miles – Coach, Mr. John Magri – Official.
Volley Ball: Ladies: Giselle Abela, Catherine Attard, Sarah Curmi, Annemarie Darmanin, Marjoe Falzon, Nadia Lanzon, Patricia Micallef Eynaud, Carmen Carabott, Elizabeth Gaerty, Jelena Gagic, Daniela Bonnici, Natasha Pace. Mens: Patrick Bonett, Karl Bonnici, David Caruana, Jonathan Chetcuti, Jeremy Dalli, Mark Pace, Eric Sciberras, Censu Tabone, Nicky Tabone, Peter Testa. Mr. Sandro Pecorella – Offical, Mr. Mark Hili – Official, Mr. Antonio Pavlov,Ms. Elisabeth Mariani, Verka Borisova.
Swimming: Angela Galea, Neil Agius, Mark Buttigieg, Ian Diacono, Nikki Abela, Elaine Farrugia, Lara Callus, Roberta Callus, John Tabone. Mr. Christopher Agius – Official, Mr. Selmeci Attila – Coach.
Table-Tennis: Simon Gerada, Shan Chen, Lu Liping, Timothy Buttigieg, Johanna Grech, Mark Azzopardi, Cristine Cassar Torregiani
Malta’s adventure in San Marino could not have been better. Few critics would have given our athletes in red any realistic hopes of registering Malta’s best ever result at the Games of the Small States of Europe.
The defection of the Chinese table-tennis players may have fuelled an air of pessimism in the Maltese clan. Critics are quick to calculate mathematical computations. Two gold medals and a further two medals were out of Malta’s reach. The absence of the Chinese duo was more than made up by five star performances from all quarters.
For the first time, Malta clinched the first gold medal up for grabs in cycling. Dave Millar, joined the rest of the Maltese contingent on Monday. The lanky cyclist met the rest of the cycling team at the Hotel Panoramic and was quick to boost his colleagues’ mental preparation for the games. I recall having a quick chat with John Miles, the national coach on the eve of the time trial. He was confident that Malta would win gold and bronze the next day in the event.
As expected Dave Millar stormed to gold during the time trial to the joy of the rest of us who converged on to the finish line to cheer our cyclists. Jack Schiavone placed fourth and John Miles’s prediction fell short by just a whisker. But it was the right tonic to kick start the rest of the Maltese contingent.
Every day, there was something to shout about. One of the most emotional episodes was witnessed during the bowls final, which as contested in front of dozens of passionate San Marino citizens who were confident that no one could topple them at their own game. But Stefan Farrugia thought otherwise. The athlete who nearly missed the games after a bout of flu threatened his presence at San Marino stole the limelight with two brilliant displays against the top San Marino players to clinch gold. I vividly remember telling all the Maltese supporters who had made the trip to San Marino, to be present for the final. The Maltese were true to their word. At the venue, we may have been outnumbered, but our cheers echoed around the makeshift boccidromo as our opponents slowly and painfully conceded defeat.
The gold medal is the ultimate of any event. Athletes and officials alike could be seen with their eyes gleaming as the Maltese flag was gently hoisted to the sweet tune of the Maltese national anthem. During competition, adrenalin pumps through our systems as we lived the ups and downs of our athletes from the terraces. When the mission was accomplished, we were engulfed by emotion, as a string of exhaustion seemed to sedate our bodies.
The policies undertaken by the Malta Olympic Committee yielded their dividends. For the first time ever, local athletes had access to two sports psychologists during the games plus a fully-fledged medical team. Most athletes were able to train side by side with foreign athletes who were brought over to Malta under the sparring partners scheme. Financial incentives, qualified coaches and the right mental preparation helped our athletes make the grade when it really mattered.
Our joys were at times jaded by some ill luck, which always strikes during competition. We thought that Angela Galea had won another bronze medal only to realize that the electronic timer had registered a fault and that Angela had in fact placed fourth. We shared jack Schiavone’s anguish when he was knocked down by an official car during the road race, an incident which ultimately cost the Malta team a medal. We stood by Simon Gerada as he narrated his disappointment of missing out on the gold medal in the final. And we waited patiently for Deirdre Farrugia’s outcome in the photo finish contest of the 100 metre final.
But tears of disappointment are part of the equation. They are wiped out by the sheer joy of victory and true Olympic spirit. The sights of Laurie Pace and Nathalie Galea fighting for gold, the breaking of the jinx for the shooting federation, our girls winning the first ever medal in volleyball and the triumphs registered in athletics and elsewhere.
Malta seems to be on the right track. And things can only improve when our athletes walk with their heads held high on home soil in two years time.
|Women’s 4 x 100
||Triple Jump |
|Men’s 4 x 100
|Womens 4 x 400
|Mens 4 x 400
|Gordon Asciak/Mark Schembri
|Lisa Camenzuli /Carol C. Torreggiani
|Johanna Grech / Christine C. Torreggiani
|Johanna Grech / Christine C. Torreggiani