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MOC Officially announces contingent for Beijing Olympic Games

Malta Independent Wednesday, 9 July 2008, 00:00 Last update: about 11 years ago

Judoka Marcon Bezzina will be the flag bearer

The Maltese Olympic Committee yesterday officially named the contingent to represent Malta at next month's Beijing Games in China.

As announced in The Malta Independent on Sunday, it will consist of athletes Charlene Attard and Nikolai Portelli, swimmers Ryan Gambin and Madeleine Scerri, judoka Marcon Bezzina and shooter William Chetcuti.

Accompanying the athletes will be the head of delegation, MOC president Mr Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco, Secretary General Joe Cassar and the Director of Finance, David Azzopardi.

Dr Lucienne Attard will be acting as the medical doctor for the whole contingent, despite that she is also an MOC director.

Chef de Mission is vice-president Julian Pace Bonello, and his assistant will be Marie Therese Zammit.

There will also be a coach for each sport, that is, Leandros Calleja for athletics, Gail Rizzo for swimming, Jurgen Klinger for judo and Jimmy Bugeja for shooting.

Farrugia Sacco revealed that judoka Marcon Bezzina will be the contingent's flag bearer at the opening ceremony on 8 August at the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium.

Marcon has been active since the 2004 Games in Athens. Since then, she has taken part in several international events which helped her gain tremendous experience. She won gold medals at the Games for European Small States in Andorra (2005) and Monaco (2007) and, at present, is at Bath University in England, continuing her academic studies as well as practising judo, together with the Great Britain Olympic team.

Farrugia Sacco said that only Ryan Gambin had qualified on his own merit to take part in this edition of the Games. The others are there either by invitation or through the universality system used by the International Olympic Committee.

He insisted that the Maltese are well prepared for the occasion and they were hoping to see the athletes improving upon their recent performances.

Replying to a question on whether the MOC was intent on keeping a promise made four years ago, that they were after a medal, Farrugia Sacco said: "This is always our dream. We wish to, but we can never be sure of doing so. It is not easy but we will do everything within our possibilities to achieve our aim. It all depends on several factors, such as the form of the athletes - and the opponents - on the day of the event."

Secretary General Joe Cassar explained in detail what the Chinese Organising Committee has been doing to ensure a successful edition of the Games.

He said: "Among other things, they have constructed 12 new venues, eleven others have been renovated and they turned other buildings into temporary venues - 37 in all - to stage all the events.

"Their greatest achievement is undoubtedly the National Stadium, called the Bird's Nest, It has a capacity of 80,000. The opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the athletics events and the football final are to be held there," he said.

Cassar also said that there will be just one more event than those held in Athens four years ago, but there will be some new events, like the 3,000m steeplechase for women, the team events in table-tennis and some events in fencing.

MOC vice president Julian Pace Bonello said it was an honour for him to be selected as the Chef de Mission. He gave details on all the six athletes and their achievements throughout the past months. He also confirmed that everything, including their preparation, was taken very seriously and he was sure the athletes would be trying their very best to perform admirably.

This will be Malta's 14th participation in the Olympics. Earlier Malta took part in the Amsterdam Games (1928), Berlin (1936), London (1948), Rome (1960), Mexico (1968), Munich (1972), Moscow (1980), Los Angeles (1984), Seoul (1988), Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996), Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004).

* * *

The following is the full list of members comprising the Maltese contingent at the Beijing Olympic Games:

Heads of Delegation: MOC president Mr Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco and Secretary General Joe Cassar.

Chef de Mission: Julian Pace Bonello

Ass. Chef de Mission: Marie Therese Zammit

Director of Finance: David Azzopardi

Medical doctor: Dr Lucienne Attard

Athletes and coaches

Athletics - Charlene Attard and Nikolai Portelli. Coach Leandros Calleja

Swimming - Madeleine Scerri and Ryan Gambin. Coach Gail Rizzo

Judo - Marcon Bezzina. Coach Jurgen Klinger

Shooting - William Chetcuti. Coach Jimmy Bugeja

They will be leaving at various stages but the first group is to leave on 27 July.

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