Athletics Malta’s Road Running Series returned with an exciting race on a surprisingly sunny morning in Marsascala, with 160 athletes on the starting line.
The men’s race as expected turned out to be a duel with two of the most in-form middle distance runners, with Luke Micallef (Pembroke) claiming the first leg of this four-round competition, completing the 10km distance in a very strong 30:57, with Dillon Cassar (Mellieha) taking second place in 31:26.
Roberta Schembri – 10k winner (Photo: Monalisa Camilleri)
Evolve’s Gabriel Farrugia took the final place on the podium with his 32:10 earning him a national U20 record. A second category record was broken by La Salle’s Stefan Cassar, whose 36:10 set a new benchmark at Under 18 level. Cassar’s achievement was even more impressive considering that he had ran the 2000m steeplechase on track the day before.
Reigning 5k and 10k champion Roberta Schembri (Evolve) confirmed her strength on the distance among the women notching victory in 36:02, 20 seconds ahead of Lisa Marie Bezzina (Pembroke). Joelle Cortis completed the podium with a 36:46 gun time.
Track and Field Open Meet
Track and field athletes were less lucky with windy and rainy conditions at the Matthew Micallef Stadium on Saturday, as short distance running competitions take place during the timeframe traditionally reserved for indoor events.
The tightest race of the day was the 60m. Sprinting on a wet track, four athletes crossed the finish line within 0.1s of each other. Gaetano Di Franco (Allcomers Aloysius AC) took first place in 6.95s, ahead of Luke Bezzina 7.00, Beppe Grillo 7.02 (Pembroke AC), Omar El Aida Chaffey 7.05 (Blaze AC). Among the ladies, Claire Azzopardi (7.67s) edged out Alessia Cristina (7.8s).
On the 1000 m distance, Michela Caruana (2:29.81) and Mireya Bugeja (3:00.03), hailing from Zurrieq Wolves, laid the groundwork as they seek qualification for this year’s edition of the U20 championships in Jerusalem. Among the male counterparts, three athletes coached by Kevin Galea obtained creditable results, Jean Paul Debono 2:35.10, Neil Brimmer 2:42.09 (Zurrieq Wolves) and young and in form u18 athlete Michael Debattista (Pembroke AC) finished in 2:42.13.
It was a positive start of the season for Pembroke AC pole-vaulters Peppijna Dalli and Sana Grillo clearing 3.60m and 3.20m respectively.
Libertas AC athlete Mona Lisa Camilleri made a very welcome return to track competitions after a terrible incident a couple of years ago in Andorra. She took the honours on the 3000m distance in 10:35.42, followed by U20 athlete Kyla Farrugia (St. Patricks AC) in 11:00.49.
Good news for Maltese athletics this weekend also came from Ancona in Italy, where Rebecca Sare’ broke the national record in the triple jump (12.62m, pending verification by Athletics Malta) a mere week after Claire Azzopardi had taken the seven-year-old record away from her in London. At the same event, an incredible return to the sport by Becky Gorrieri, returning to the long jump after an absence of some eight years.
The next pre-season track and field meeting will take place this Saturday, with the Winter Championships scheduled a week later. On the other hand, road running athletes will be back in Hal Far for the second leg of the league on 19th February.
Caption Image – Bernard Cutajar