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Herrera, Attard establish new records

Mark Herrera... new 1,500m junior record in 4:02.32. Picture: Wally Galea.

Mark Herrera... new 1,500m junior record in 4:02.32. Picture: Wally Galea.

Well ahead of the Games of the Small States of Europe next June, the Malta Olympic Committee initiated a series of projects intended for a wide band of athletes on the verge of making it to the top grade of Maltese representation.

The long-term strategy, in harmony with the efforts of the Malta Amateur Athletic Association to expose athletes to as wide a competition as possible, definitely helps young talent to confront their peers.

Mark Herrera is one athlete on the aptly called Aspirant Scheme, while Charlene Attard, still 15, benefits from Project 2003.

During the second Gatorade Athletic Meeting at Marsa last weekend, these two athletes were the main protagonists of the day.

Competing in the 1,500m in near perfect weather conditions, Herrera made his intentions known very early at the gun. He adopted a fast pace that had him covering the first two laps in practically the same time but somewhat slowed during the third.

Perhaps this was a strategy to conserve his energy for the final assault.

With the spectators present switching their gaze from the athlete to the electronic timing and back again, shouting encouragement, Herrera intensified his efforts in the last 200 metres to smash through the previous junior record, established by Kevin Zammit five years ago (4:03.06), recording a new 4:02.32.

Unlike Herrera, Attard could count on intense competition deriving from two other talented Project 2003 sprinters - Celine Pace and Angie Mangion. Also in her race were Deirdre Farrugia, the current 60m indoor record holder, Lara Gerada and Therese Mallia.

Following a textbook start to the 60m dash, the contestants flew down the straight in a near perfect line. But at five metres out, there was no doubting the lead enjoyed by Attard. She went through the finishing line in an electronic timing of eight seconds dead.

This was the best ever timing for the 60m recorded outdoors by a local girl.

Besides these two remarkable results, other encouraging performances were recorded by Deirdre Farrugia and Nikolai Portelli, in the 200m sprints, Karl Farrugia in the 60m and Lara Gerada's fine showing in the triple jump.

Other good performances forthcoming were those in a series of hurdle sprint events, where Malta is striving to put up a creditable challenge in the GSSE.

The third and last meeting in this series will be held tomorrow. The first event is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

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