Athletics Malta’s official sporting calendar year kicks off with an action-packed weekend as both road running as well as track and field athletes return to the national stage. The year ahead promises to be an exciting one for this sport, with Maltese athletes pushing for the required timings and distances to qualify for a host of international events, including the Games of Small States of Europe that will be held on our shores later this year, the European Indoor championships in Istanbul, European Games in Silesia, Poland and the World Championships in Budapest.
Senior track and field athletes will be hitting the Matthew Micallef St John Stadium on Saturday, for the first of two Open Pre-Season Meetings, in preparation to the first highlight of the first part of the athletics season, the Winter Championships, scheduled on 11th February 2023.
Despite the sporting calendar being in its early stages, a number of field athletes have already demonstrated to be well-set for a strong season ahead establishing national records in Malta and abroad. These include triple-jumper Claire Azzopardi, who set a new national indoor record at 12.16m in London last week, Jeremy Zammit, who took the long-jump national benchmark to an impressive 7.84m while competing in the US, as well as Bradley Mifsud, wo established a new national record in the discus, with a 53.80m throw at a club meeting earlier this year in Marsa.
On Sunday, the eagerly-anticipated Road Running League makes its return after an absence of two years, with the first of four scheduled races. The inaugural race will take place in Marsascala on a 10km route which has been recently approved by World Athletics as an officially certified course.
The league, which crowns Malta’s individual and Club champions, will consist of four races over the next two months, two on 10km and two on the 5km distance. Among the most in-form local based athletes to watch, Dillon Cassar (Mellieha) and Luke Micallef (Pembroke) in the past weeks ran an impressive 30’39 in Valencia and 30’43 in Nice respectively and will look forward to a competitive challenge. Youngster Gabriel Farrugia (Evolve Endurance Club) is another man to watch after his strong performances in the Spanish city (31’59) as well as at the European Cross Country Championships.
Among the women, the current 5k and 10k National Champion Roberta Schembri (Evolve Endurance Club), reigning league champion and winner of the recent Pisa Half Marathon Lisa Marie Bezzina (Pembroke Athleta), as well as Joelle Cortis, who performed well in Valencia earlier this year, are expected to be the early pace-setter of this competition.