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Late is great for sprinter Busuttil

Sarah Busuttil. Photo: Wally Galea

Sarah Busuttil. Photo: Wally Galea

Football is such a dominant sport in Malta that it is to be expected that it attracts the best sporting talent.

In the past that was the case for the men’s game but, given its growing popularity, that is increasingly the case even as far as women are concerned.

Fortunately, some still manage to make the transition to other sports. That was the case of Sarah Busuttil who has won herself a place among Malta’s sprinting elite since making the move to athletics.

“Being active from a very young age introduced me to various sports like tennis, handball, basketball and football,” she explains.

“My coaches throughout the years always seemed impressed with my sprints and I was approached to start athletics on more than one occasion throughout the four years that I spent playing football with Kirkop United.

“Between my passion for team sports and finalising my dissertation, athletics had to wait. At the end of September 2014, I took part in the 60m, 100m and the 200m during a sports day organised by the Central Bank.

“It was during this event that I was approached by Valerie Farrugia and Antonella Chouhal to take up this new sport. I started training with Rachid Chouhal the following Monday.”

Busuttil quickly fell in love with track and field.

“It wasn’t merely an attraction (to athletics) but more of something that I always yearned to do,” Busuttil said.

“My favourite sessions during any sport would be sprints. Training athletics though brings with it so much self-discipline that you eventually realise that you are capable of pushing your body through anything if the mind believes it.

“That in itself is a great feeling.”

Inevitably, given the reason for her picking up athletics in the first place, her focus has been on athletics with the burst of power that typify these events being what attracts her.

“The training is very specific and there is little to no room for error,” she adds.

“It starts from what you eat every day, to how focused you are in each session, to your state of mind when the official says ‘set’.

“I think that’s what makes it so interesting though, the precision of it all. You have no time to think, in a 60m you barely breathe and in a 100m I’ve finished many a race where I simply don’t remember what had just happened.”

Results followed quickly and in the 2015 GSSE Busuttil not only made her competitive debut but she also returned home with a medal and a national record.

“It was quite surreal being on the relay team only eight months after my arrival into the sport,” she told Times of Malta.

“I remember being immensely proud of representing my country so I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Before I settled into the blocks, Janet (Richards), who was running the second leg, and I looked at each other and it was probably then that I knew that we were both confident and ready to get the baton around to the rest of our team-mates.

“The national record was obviously very welcome after quite an exhilarating race.”

Now she’s aiming for further success.

“All committed athletes have their own personal goals and work consistently to achieve them,” Busuttil reckons.

“Although some goals are long term, I believe that it is important to stay focused on the present and upcoming seasons.

“I aspire to compete in the individual events in the 100m and 200m in the GSSE in San Marino next year as well as make the national 4x100m relay team.

“That said, shaving more tenths of a second off my personal bests is another clear goal for the upcoming season.”

Given how much success she has achieved so far, however, does she ever wonder what might have been if she had picked up athletics earlier?

“Perhaps I would have been able to achieve much more had I started in my teens,” she admits.

“I don’t generally dwell on the ‘what if’ because I’d rather be immersed in the sport late than not at all.”

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