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Borg shines in year of outstanding achievements

Diane Borg

Diane Borg

The year just ended was indeed another successful one for local athletics in many ways.

While the Games of the Small States of Europe in Andorra can be considered the highlight of 2005, a substantial number of athletes participated with success in various international competitions and others held locally.

Creditable results, both locally and abroad, included the performances of Rachid Chouhal in the jumps, where he twice broke the long jump record, which now rests at 7.71 metres.

Other national records at Marsa worthy of mention were established by both the men and women 4x100m relay teams in the run-up to the GSSE and that of Darren Francis Gilford in the 100m.

One particular record was that in the long jump for youth boys as it had been standing 30 years.

Andy Grech, of San Andrea School, is now the athlete to dispossess. This lad first cleared 6.01m and then 6.03m later on in the season.

Besides the GSSE, overseas competitions included the European Indoors in Madrid, the European Cup (Second League) in Istanbul, the Mediterranean Games in Spain, the European Youth Olympic Festival in Italy, the European Junior Championships in Lithuania, the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki and the World Youth Championships in Marrakech, Morocco.

Among reports of these participations that were given prominence in the media the following fully merit another mention.

The "Jeux des Iles 2005" was perhaps the most flourishing participation of the year, Malta competing with five youth girls who returned with medals, including gold in the 4x400m relay.

At these Games, in Crete, Diane Borg established a national record of 12.31 in her 100m heat, placing second. In the 200m final she won the bronze. In the 800m, Marilyn Schembri placed second winning the silver medal in a new record of 2:15.27 minutes.

The gold medal was won by the team composed of Madeleine Vassallo, Renita Agius, Schembri and Borg in a new national record of 3:59.21.

Another second place went to the 4x100 relay team composed of Sarah Muscat, Agius, Vassallo and Borg in a fine time of 49.66 seconds.

In the Marrakech championships Malta's youth was participating in its own right having attained the qualifying standard set by the world body.

Allister Bezzina took part in a tough 800m heat attaining a 43rd placing overall.

Borg continued to shine in this her best athletic year to date placing fourth, significantly smashing the four-year standing national record for the 100m Open women in a time of 12.11 seconds.

Indeed, this performance probably ranks in stature as the best ever on foreign soil by a Maltese. It was certainly among the most prestigious, earning Borg a commendable 35th place among 87 competitors.

At the European Indoors, the MAAA participated with three athletes, having Chouhal in the long jump and Gilford and Therese Mallia in the 60m.

Mallia managed a new national record, registering a time of 7.96 seconds. An outstanding achievement was that of Gilford when he equalled his own national record of 6.76 seconds, placing 28th overall in a European affiliation of 49 countries.

At the GSSE, the Malta team of 19 athletes won two gold, nine silver and six bronze medals, the highest ever on foreign soil.

Historically Jeandre Mallia, Chouhal, Mario Bonello and Gilford came away with the gold in the 4x100 relay in a national record of 40.63 seconds.

In the 10,000m Carol Walsh simply ran away from the opposition to take gold, an addition to the silver won in the 5,000m.

Other silver medals for the girls were won by young Martina Xuereb in the 400m, Lisa Marie Bezzina, in the 10,000m, and Rebecca Camilleri in the long jump.

The 4x100m (Lara Scerri, Therese Mallia, Charlene Attard and Diane Borg) and the 4x400m (Diane Borg, Charlene Attard, Lara Scerri and Martina Xuereb) completed the silverware collection. Chouhal was the only male to win two silver medals in individual events - long jump and triple jump. The men's 4x400m team, composed of Ivan Borg, Mario Bonello, Karl Farrugia and Nikolai Portelli won the silver medal.

Bronze medals were won by Gilford in the 100m, Attard and Bonello, both in the 200m, Portelli in the 400m, Bezzina in the 800m and Jean Paul Callus in the javelin.

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