The Malta Independent 23 February 2020, Sunday

Official Feature of the Maltese Olympic Committee: Judo – 26th Malta International Open

Malta Independent Tuesday, 20 April 2010, 00:00 Last update: about 7 years ago

The 26th International Malta Open this year was moved to April, and it looked like a very good decision because the Maltese team had a better opportunity to prepare itself. Participants in these events came from the traditional strong clubs in Italy and a few other countries.

The Malta Open on Saturday was a good opportunity for Maltese Judoka to take part in an international event at low cost, because everything is organised in Malta. It is also an opportunity for Maltese national referees and table officials to take part in an International event locally.

Marcon Bezzina showed her old supremacy by eliminating all her opponents by Ippon (full points). Besides Joanna, there were three strong Italian Judoka coming from Sicily and Rome with international experience.

Marcon threw in all her experience and dominated the event to win gold in the Open female category, to be followed by Angelina Bombara, bronze in the last world cadet championships, and Joanna Camilleri.

Joanna managed to come back to the golden team by systematically eliminating her opponents in her category.

Jeremy Saywell tried his luck in the heavier -73 kgs Male Open Category. When he took part in his own weight and age category, (-66kgs Juniors) – the same category he will be representing Malta in the Youth Olympic Games – Jeremy was dominant. He flew around, countering his Italian opponents’ attacks with his characteristic flip-overs and managed to slip into his favourite techniques throwing most of his opponents by Ippon (full points), ultimately winning gold.

Unfortunately, there was only one opponent for Isaac Bezzina who was five kilos heavier, and did not have a second opportunity.

Three other members of the national team pool, Alexander Gribinets, Shawn Farrugia and Tiziana Apap did not fare too badly and managed to secure a bronze medal each.

The two cadet members in the national team pool showed they have great prospects for the future. Artem Pashkov beat his two opponents winning gold and Tyron Zerafa made his debut in international competition.

On the whole, the Maltese team fared well, placing first in the medals table.

Masters Programme in Olympia: A unique experience thanks to the Maltese Olympic Committee

Maria Tanti

It is a unique experience to study about Olympism and the Olympic Games at the International Olympic Academy overlooking the valley where the ruins of Ancient Olympia lie. The Ancient Olympic Stadium, just five minutes walk from the Academy’s entrance, is where the ancient Hellenic athletes used to compete every four years, some 3,000 years ago.

All Greece respected the ethos of Ekecheiria – the Olympic truce. They saw it their duty to pay tribute to Zeus and the Ancient Gods by taking part in one of the major cultural events in Ancient times.

I was one of 30 students, from 25 different countries, with ages varying from 20-50, coming from different professions, chosen as the pioneers to undertake this Masters programme, ‘Olympic Studies, Olympic Education, Organisation and Management of Olympic Events’.

The studies are very intense as each semester consists of spending half the months at the Olympic Academy taking classes and exams and the other half is spent in our home countries writing papers. Thus our time in Olympia is mostly spent in the classroom and the library.

In the first semester, we studied incessantly about the Ancient and Modern games. Our location enabled us to visit archaeological sites to understand and feel the Greek and Ancient Greek athletic history. We also managed to analyse the education elements in Olympism and the philosophy behind the Olympic Games and Sports.

The International Olympic Academy is a fundamental part of the system to infuse Olympism – the original educational values that Pierre De Coubertin sought after when he strived to revive the ancient Olympic Games.

Baron de Coubertin’s heart is symbolically buried at the Academy, giving us that special feeling that each one of us, in our own individual way, should bring back to his country values of Fair Play, and the important idea that sports and physical exercise turn one into a harmonious person thus enabling more harmonious societies, which can combine a holistic development of body, mind and soul.

Some of these sport values are about our own sports history, hence we would not only know in theory what was done, but start thinking how to apply things at home in order to get our own people into better shape, physically and mentally.

Thankfully even though it is hard to study away from my home country, family and friends, I am going through this experience with 29 other brilliant people, varying from presidents of NOC’s/NOA’s, lawyers, teachers, journalists to coaches and athletes, all sharing the same love and dedication for sport.

This Masters is my next step in self development. In the years to come I will be looking for the opportunity to contribute more to sport and to bring the youth closer to sport as I strongly believe that sport participation gives an opportunity to develop an identity.

Sport and physical activity create positive social change because sports generate effort and respect towards one another. Since sport actively sets social integration and economic development in motion, it is a powerful means for ideals such as peace, collaboration, patience, tolerance and righteousness.

The United Nations continually makes use of sport for development and peace, and in 2003 declared “sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace”.

Even though the course is intense, one cannot but feel privileged to have been chosen to undertake these studies on a scholarship. It is definitely an interesting and rewarding experience to study about the Olympic Games at the International Olympic Academy and I am really looking forward to the next semester which will bring along a fresh batch of knowledge, experiences and ideas.

Thanks goes to the Maltese Olympic Committee for giving me this opportunity, through its Olympic Academy, to further my studies in sport at such a prestigious venue.

Eleanor Bezzina sets new standard in women’s 10m Air-Pistol event

Eleanor Bezzina, the newest Maltese prodigy in Olympic Air-Pistol shooting, broke several records to win the highly contested Air-Pistol selection competitions at the Bidnija Airgun range.

She became the first ever Maltese female shooter to break the Olympic Minimum Qualifying Score of 365/400 by a margin of six points for a total score of 371 in the qualification round and an excellent 94.8 points in the final for a combined total record score of 465.8 points.

This is also another new record for Malta. With this score she won gold ahead of Josette Calleja who also obtained a personal best score of 339/400 and an 81.9 points in the final for a total of 420.9 points to win the silver medal.

In the men’s air-pistol event, Ray Cacciattolo was the winner with a good score of 545/600 and a 93.0 points in the final for a total score of 638.0 points. In second place John Vincenti obtained a 409 in the qualification round and 79.0 points in the final for a total score of 488.0 points. Patrick Azzopardi placed third with only his qualification score of 469 points since he could not continue with the final.

During this competition the ladies also shot an additional 20 shots so that they could be classified with the men and the final result was that Eleanor became the first woman to win an “Open” Air-Pistol competition in Malta by again placing first with a best score ever of 647.8 points.

She was followed by Ray Cacciattolo on 638.0 points and Josette Calleja in third position with 590.9 points. John Vincenti with 488.8 points and Patrick Azzopardi with 469 ended in fourth and fifth place respectively.

In the Air-Rifle event there were some surprises as well when a new Gozitan female shooter participated in the 10m Air-Rifle event for the first time.

Rosanne Xerri obtained a remarkable score of 503/600 and 83.8 points in the final (586.8 total points) to take the silver medal after Michael Xuereb who with a score of 513 and 89.1points obtained a total final score of 602.1 points to win this event. Austin Vella placed third with a score of 445 plus 74.9 points for a total final score of 519.9points.

It is with great satisfaction to note the rapid progress that especially this female shooting sport is making in Malta. Such great talent is being carefully nurtured at the Bidnija Shooting Club and this augurs very well for our future champions.

The competitions were judged by international ISSF referee Gino Galea and assisted by Lawrence Darmanin and John Galea.

IOC’s Killy satisfied with Sochi progress

The International Olympic Committee is “on most accounts very satisfied” with Russian preparations for the 2014 Winter Games, a top IOC official said.

After the first inspection of Sochi’s preparations since Vancouver passed the torch in February, Jean-Claude Killy, the chairman of the IOC coordination commission monitoring work in Sochi, said the “progress is very significant.” The commission’s last visit was in May.

Killy spoke after touring construction sites on the Black Sea shore and in the mountains.

Russia has less than four years to complete 30 arenas, courses and other facilities – not to mention the 200 associated infrastructure projects. All Olympic facilities in Sochi are being built from scratch.

“We visited almost all the sites ... and we are absolutely impressed with what we have seen,” Killy said. He said that “a lot is still to be done,” but added that “I sincerely believe these games will be better than promised.”

Killy’s remarks were relayed by video link to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, who said that “on the whole, work is on schedule.”

Putin also underlined a commitment to preserving natural habitats. Environmentalists say the Olympic construction has caused irreversible harm.

He promised almost 30 billion rubles (more than $1 billion) would be allocated from the federal budget this year towards accelerating preparations, and said he expected about the same amount from the private sector.

Officials are forming an Olympics centered on two so-called clusters of facilities: A seaside cluster for ice events and a mountain cluster for snow events.

Environmentalists say the price for building what officials boast to be the most compact games ever is the destruction of unique natural habitat.

Putin underlined a commitment to their preservation, but green activists have lamented what they call irreversible ecological damage. Of most concern is the Mzympa river, beside which a road-rail link between the clusters is being built. The United Nations Environmental Programme said the games would not be green in their report last month.

A tour of the facilities last week showed progress and what may be procrastination.

At the seaside Olympic Park cluster, the futuristic Bolshoi Ice Palace – designated as the ice hockey stadium – is taking shape. The building is to be reminiscent of a frozen water droplet, and the smooth, circular concrete exterior already carries that appearance. Steel rods protruding skywards from supporting concrete pillars are a stark reminder, however, that completion of the 12,000-seat arena is still some way off.

Perhaps even more illustrative is the pile of bricks in an adjacent field – what officials insist will be the 45,000-seat centrepiece stadium hosting the opening and closing ceremonies. The stadium won’t be used for Olympic competition, and officials hope that it might be the semi-final venue for the 2018 World Cup, should Russia win the hosting rights in a December vote by governing body FIFA.

Preparation for the Krasnaya Polyana mountain cluster are more advanced. Some facilities such as gondolas and ski runs are already in operation, and most efforts are centered on getting roads and electricity substations up to scratch.

The state railroad behemoth Russian Railways is responsible for the road-rail link, and officials estimate one quarter of the work has been completed. More than a dozen tunnels through the mountains and a raised track above the river so trains can travel directly over it are currently under construction.

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