Modest goals set for Iceland
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Modest goals set for Iceland

A group of MOC officials and athletes at the headquarters in Tal-Qroqq. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

A group of MOC officials and athletes at the headquarters in Tal-Qroqq. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

The Maltese Olympic Committee (MOC) has modest expectations for the 2015 Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) as the local governing body for elite sport yesterday named the contingent of athletes that will be competing in Reykjavik between June 1 and 6.

The MOC is fielding one of its smallest squads in recent GSSEs as 58 athletes will be representing the country in the biennial games – four fewer than Luxembourg two years back.

“After weeks of talks and evaluations we have finally completed the list of athletes for the Iceland Games,” Julian Pace Bonello, the MOC president, told a news conference in Tal-Qroqq, yesterday.

“We are heading into these Games fully aware that the sports programme in Iceland is not a favourable one for us as trap, double trap and squash have been left out.

“Traditionally, we claim a considerable amount of medals from these competitions but this time they are not in the calendar.

“Having said that, we still have a lot of confidence in each and every member of our contingent and we know those selected can challenge for medals in Reykjavik.”

In the previous Games, Team Malta returned home with 26 medals – two gold, 10 silver and 14 bronze. That was our poorest showing since 1995 when the Games were also held in Iceland.

Pressed to say whether the MOC was hoping to improve on the 2013 performance, Pace Bonello was cautious in his words.

Eleonor Bezzina unfurling the Malta flag after it was passed on to her by MOC president Julian Pace Bonello.Eleonor Bezzina unfurling the Malta flag after it was passed on to her by MOC president Julian Pace Bonello.

“Taking a look at the contingents of the other GSSE nations you will realise that our athletes face stiff competition in Iceland,” the MOC chief said.

“Obviously, our target is always to try and do better but we also have to be objective when making predictions. In my opinion, it will be difficult to get a better result.

“We have also agreed on bonuses for medal winners and that’s an added incentive. However, despite wishing that the results will force us to hand out a lot of cash when the team returns home, we know the bar has risen considerably in these Games.”

Pace Bonello said the MOC’s focus goes beyond the Games in Iceland.

“Our work plan is not limited to next month only,” he remarked.

“In two years’ time the GSSE will be staged in San Marino where we are lobbying alongside the hosts to have trap and double trap, along with raffa bowls, back on the competition programme.

“We are confident that we can succeed in our quest and this year, we already had competitors from these particular sport taking part in international events outside the country.

“Besides, thanks to the agreement we signed with the Kunsill Malti għall-iSport, we had talks with our affiliated federations and they know exactly the funds they will be receiving for next year. That puts them in a better position to plan in advance, particularly on the technical aspect of their athletes.”

Mario Micallef, the MOC Director of Sport, said the selection of the contingent was held according to the Minimum Qualifying Standard patterns set by the MOC – equivalent to results achieved at bronze medal level in each discipline in Luxembourg 2013.

“All athletes who got the MQS are on the list,” Micallef said.

“There is a small group who just missed out but they have also been included. We are confident that they will reach the required standards by the time competition kicks off in Iceland.”

Two notable absentees are the athletics 4x100m men and women teams, a decision that has brought protests from the Malta Amateur Athletics Association.

“The 4x100m relay quartets are not in the squad as they’re outside the MQS target,” Micallef said.

“The men’s team had an added problem to deal with as one of their sprinters suffered an injury and there was no adequate re-placement for him.”

Bezzina – flag bearer

The MOC yesterday announced that target shooter Eleonor Bezzina will be Malta’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony at the Iceland Games, to be held at the Laugardalsvollur Stadium, in Reykjavik, on Monday, June 1.

For Bezzina, winner of a gold medal in air pistol in Luxembourg 2013, this will be the second time that she will carry the national flag in a major Games.

Two years ago, she led Team Malta at the athletes’ parade in the Mediterranean Games, in Mersin, Turkey.

Team Malta for GSSE

Athletics
K. Moore (200m, 400m, 4x400), C. Wingfield (100m, 200m), R. Dimech (400m, 4x400), J. Richard (400m, 4x400), F. Borg (400m, 4x400), M. Crocker (800m, 4x400), G. Camilleri (5,000m, 10,000m), R. Camilleri (long jump), R. Sare (triple jump), N. Brimmer (4x400), Y. Pace (4x400), C. Attard (4x400).

Basketball (women)
R. Brincat Thoresen, S. Brincat, E. Cassar, S. De Martino, M. De Martino, C. Grima, J. Grima, N. Handreck, G. Mifsud, L. Sciberras, A. Vella, B. Zammit.

Beach Volley (women)
A. Borg, G. Zarb.

Golf
A. Borg, D. Holland, J.J. Ver Elst Micallef.

Gymnastics
C. Azzopardi, S. Buttigieg, K. Caruana, P. Dalli, S. Grillo.

Judo
J. Saywell (-66kg), G. Atanasov (-73kg, -81kg), M. Korchilava (-90kg, -100kg), I. Bezzina (-100kg), A. Battistino (-52kg), J. Camilleri (-57kg, -63kg), M. Bezzina (-63kg, -78kg).

Shooting
G. Azzopardi Spiteri (air rifle), W. Vella (air rifle), C. Farrugia (skeet), D. Vella (skeet), A. Formosa (air rifle), E. Bezzina (air pistol).

Swimming
M. Galea (50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 4x100 free, 4x100 IM), A. Chetcuti (50 free, 100 free, 100 fly, 4x100 free, 4x100 IM), N. Muscat (50 free), J. Harding (100 breaststroke, 100 fly, 200 fly, 4x100 free, 4x100 IM), M. Umnov (200 breaststroke, 200 fly, 200 IM, 400 IM, 4x100 free, 4x100 IM).

Table Tennis
V. Lucenkova, J. Pace.

Tennis
M. Asciak, B. Callus, E. Genovese, K. Sammut.

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