Moore scorches track in Schaan
Camilleri second in long jump as young Gatt scoops 400m bronze
Malta’s track and field athletes continued to boost the country’s tally of medals in the 2011 LieGames yesterday after winning one gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the Rheinwiese Stadium, in Schaan.
With one day to go for the end of the Games, Team Malta have now collected 19 medals overall – three gold, nine silver and seven bronze.
Kevin Arthur Moore took centre stage for Malta as the robust sprinter stormed home first in the 400 metres final while Nicole Gatt, the youngest athlete in the Games, pipped Francesca Xuereb for bronze in the women’s one-lap race.
Rebecca Camilleri placed second in the long jump and in the men’s jump Rachid Chouhal beat team-mate Andy Grech for third place.
All eyes were on Moore after his dominant run in the semi-finals on Wednesday. He was touted as clear favourite for gold and the 20-year-old did not disappoint.
Again, he showed class to blaze around the track in dominant fashion and cross the finish line in a remarkable 47.68 seconds.
Monaco’s Brice Etes was second in 48.63 while Kyriakos Antoniou took bronze in 48.74.
Malta’s other runner in the 400m final, James D’Alfonso, was fifth in 49.26.
“I’m over the moon at the moment,” Moore told The Times after the race.
“I was keen to make a strong impression on my first appearance for Malta and I’m delighted to have won gold. It was a tough race as all the other runners were of a very strong level and I was taking no chances. However, in the final 100 metres I had a lot of strength left and could preserve my lead till the end.”
Asked to comment on his experience with the Maltese team so far, Moore said: “I’m enjoying every minute of it. This is something really special for me. I was born in Malta and lived in Marsascala until I was six before we moved to Australia.
“Now, I want to continue running for Malta possibly in other major events such as the Commonwealth Games or Olympics. But I will have to discuss that with my coach and the Maltese officials first.”
In the women’s race, Gatt, 14, became the youngest Maltese athlete to win a medal in Liechtenstein. In the 400m race, she crossed the finish line in 57.07, just ahead of Xuereb who was fourth in 57.32.
Arna Gudmunsdottir, of Iceland, won the race in 55.73 and Frederique Hansen, of Luxembourg, was second in 56.38.
“I’m so delighted to have marked my first appearance in the Games with a medal,” Gatt, who is also the national youth champion in weightlifting, said.
“I have trained really hard these past few months for me to get this result so it’s a great feeling to be here with a medal hanging around my neck.”
Camilleri was a whisker away from setting a new national record in long jump yesterday.
She had a best leap of 6.21 metres, just one centimetre short of her national best. Cyprus’s Nektaria Panayi had the winning effort of 6.35 while Iceland’s Hafdis Sigurdardottir took bronze with 6.09.
Camilleri’s team-mate Alessandra Pace was seventh with a best jump of 5.40 metres.
“Winning a silver medal is a great result but I am a bit disappointed as I feel that I could have done better,” Camilleri, now in her third GSSE, said.
“My run-up to the jump was not really perfect and the winner’s 6.35 was well within my reach in my opinion. But in the end this result fills me with more determination to do better.”
Chouhal placed third with a jump of 6.97 metres.
“I’m surprised to have won this medal as I was not really keen to compete in this event,” Chouhal admitted.
“My main focus at the moment is to do well in the 4x100 relay and today I didn’t want to force too much to avoid injury.
“It’s unfortunate that I had beat my team-mate Andy to the medal but that’s sport and his time will come for sure.”
Meanwhile, in the 200 metres semi-finals, Diane Borg clocked the second fastest time of the heats when she ran 24.34... just 0.01 off the national record she set last month.
Owen Camilleri also qualified to the men’s final when he clocked the third fastest time in 22.02.
Solid group – MOC
Maltese Olympic Committee president Lino Farrugia Sacco highlighted the strong unity that is keeping Team Malta united in Liechtenstein.
“Things are getting better and better for us,” he told The Times.
“We have won three gold medals and Saturday (today) we have the opportunity to increase that tally which would leave us with one of our best performances in a GSSE away from home for many years.
“One most pleasant aspect is to see that all the members in the squad are giving their support to each other.
“Today, in each venue, we had several members of our contingent backing their colleagues and that shows the unity in our group.”