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Charlene Attard – from a Skolasport participant to gold medal athlete

Attard during the Games of Small States of Europe (GSSE) in June 2003 at Marsa Sports Complex.

Attard during the Games of Small States of Europe (GSSE) in June 2003 at Marsa Sports Complex.

Athlete Charlene Attard, who represented Malta in 2008 Olympic Games and was the first Maltese woman to run the 100 metres under 12 seconds, had her first taste of sports in gymnastics at the age of four with Skolasport, way back in 1991. During her pre-teen years she dabbled in different sports disciplines until she found her passion for running.

Following a tip from her primary school teacher that Charlene was a fast runner, her parents encouraged her to take up athletics. “I remember my dad taking me down to Marsa track every Saturday morning to attend the Skolasport athletics session. From there, I joined Pembroke Athleta Athletics Club where I am still a member. I also tried out the swimming sessions but then found my vocation in athletics,” reminisced Attard.

“I started competing in long-distance events and road races. However, at 13, I decided to run the 100 metres for fun and I won. From there on, I decided to switch to sprints. My two proudest moments have been representing Malta in the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 and becoming the first Maltese female to run the 100m in under 12 seconds.” (11.93 seconds to be exact.)

Attard went on to represent Malta in six editions of the Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) where she won 10 medals (two gold, five silver and three bronze). She also represented Malta in the three editions of the International Catholic School Sport Federation (Fisec) games and won four gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

Named Athlete of the Year by the Malta Amateur Athletics Association for three consecutive years (2006-2008) Attard came third in the Sportiva Nazzjonali Award in 2007. In addition, she received the Malta Olympic Committee (MOC) awards four times during her career.

Work hard and believe in your dreams to make them real

When asked how the training at Skolasport helped her, she replied: “It offers the opportunity to discover the best sport discipline for the individual. Moreover, the qualified coaches instilled in me not just the technique, but also the love for sport. My coaches always believed in me, and this helped me to keep training week after week.

She thanked her parents for their ongoing support throughout the years. “They always believed in me and still do.”

But the secret of Attard’s success was training hard to achieve her dreams. “Without the sacrifices, I would not have had the opportunity to represent Malta in the Olympic Games.”

Attard today works as a PE teacher at St Joseph Senior School, Sliema. As one of the head coaches of the #OnTheMove programme, as Skolasport is known today, she is also a member of the Sport Malta board of directors and director at the Maltese Olympic Committee responsible for the athletes’ commission.

During the European Games in Baku in 2015.During the European Games in Baku in 2015.

“My journey with #OnTheMove started by attending sessions as an athlete, then working as a coach and now as head coach in the programme.

“We are working to make grassroots sports more attractive and available to children. I understand the difficulties elite Maltese athletes face since I experienced this life

“Through my positions at MOC and Sport Malta, I am trying to give and pass on to our talented participants my knowledge and expertise for even better results for Malta.”

Asked what advice she would give to young participants and their parents, Attard replied: “To youngsters: work hard and believe in your dreams to make them real. Be proud of who you are and play fair. Sport gives you opportunities in other aspects of life... don’t be afraid to take them.

“To parents: do not put too much pressure on your children, especially if they are not the best in their group. If your child is talented, give them time. The coaches help them improve progressively, one step at a time. Some children leave sport because they cannot handle the pressure coming from their own heroes. Let them try and enjoy sport. It is a way of life.”

#ON THE MOVE

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