The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

Athlete Gerald Degaetano passes away, aged 53

Monday, 8 January 2018, 15:38 Last update: about 10 months ago

Athlete Gerald Degaetano, the first athlete to win a medal for Malta at the Small Nations Games, passed away today, his brother-in-law David Griscti announced on Facebook.

Gerald DeGaetano started off his athletics career as a first year University Student back in 1983 when aged 19, having been inspired by the film Chariots of Fire.

Two years later, he had already established himself as one of the leading Maltese middle distance runners. In May 1987, he was selected to compete in the 10,000m at the Games of the Small States of Europe in Monaco having achieved the qualification standard when breaking the national record at Tal-Qroqq only a month before.  He lowered his own record by almost a minute at the Games placing a creditable fifth place.

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Gerald dominated the road running scene from then on while he continued bettering national records in the 3,000m, 5,000m and 10,000m, run mostly on the dirt track existing at the time in Marsa. In May 1989, he brought home Malta’s first ever international medal in athletics placing third at the GSSE in Cyprus.

A year later, he improved his own 5,000m national record at the European Athletics Championships in Split (today Croatia). In 1989 and 1990, he raced several times in Sicily both on the track and on the road. His road-racing times were often superior to his track times.

In a 12km Vivicitta road race in Catania, he placed 6th with a time of 35:56, which equates to a 10,000m track time well below 30 minutes. Meanwhile, he still holds the best time for the Malta Half Marathon (1:07:19) dating from February 1990.

At the 1991 GSSE in Andorra Games he placed second in the 10,000m, the altitude not allowing for record times. Later that year, he lowered the national 10,000m record yet again at the IAAF World Championships in Tokyo despite the extremely humid conditions.

After 1993, injuries took their toll and he could not continue with his progression in the sport. In 2000, Gerald took up kayaking and helped take the sport to a new level. In 2003, he was selected for the ICF World Flatwater Sprint Championships in Gainsville, Georgia.

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