Gozitan athlete Francesco Caruana represents Malta
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“Over the past years the athletics community in Gozo has grown thanks to a number of young athletes who decided to take on the sport despite there not being a track on which they can train on the island,” said Paul Camilleri and Mario Bonello of Athletix Gozo, which was set up in 2007.
“The athletes have made use of other facilities made available to them by the Gozitan sporting community such as the Nadur and Sannat synthetic football grounds and the Ta’ Xhajma horse racing track.” “They have been encouraged to participate in as many competitions in Malta as possible and even with the the difficulties, some of them have done so with great success. Andrea Schwaiger and Jolene Debattista have been regulars in the female events whilst Christoph Schwaiger and Francesco Caruana were regulars in the male events,” Paul and Mario said.
Francesco, who is 14-years old and comes from Qala was recently selected by the Malta Amateur Athletics Association to represent Malta in the Czech Republic at an International Meeting in Bruno. Paul, who is one of his coaches, noted with great satisfaction that despite the difficulties Francesco managed some good results.
“We have been following a number of athletes over the past years. Francesco has great determination and we are really happy for him. He has made history for Gozo.” On his part Francesco said, “There is a huge difference between training on the dirt track at Ta’ Xhajma and training on a rubber surface like Marsa. However, I am very motivated and if I have the talent to achieve better results, such difficulties will not deter me from training to achieve my goals.”
Mario Bonello, who just returned from the London Olympics as the Athletics Coach, commented on the determination of athletes like Francesco and Andrea. “They even come all the way from Gozo to Marsa to train with my training group. Of course they are inspired by the athletes in my group like Diane Borg. It is now the turn of their Gozitan peers to get inspired by athletes like Francesco and take up the sport in Gozo. Unlike team sports, athletics gives you a personal challenge to better yourself.”
Both Paul and Mario said that they “realise that without the right venue it is difficult for athletics to gain the momentum they wish it gathers.” They continued by saying that “a full size 400m track and its ancillary facilities (such as sand pit and throwing areas), is needed.”
When asked whether a small 200m track could do the trick they replied in the negative. “Those tracks are only adequate for kids to try athletics for fun. Once they start running quick, like some of our kids, they would not be able to negotiate the tight bends. What is needed is a full size facility, possibly with less lanes.”
They concluded by saying, “with Gozitan athletes starting to make the grade and with a number of National athletics training camps already being organised in Gozo over the past years, it is hoped that more Gozitan youth will take the challenge and try out athletics. Francesco Caruana has shown one and all that it can be done!”
Photos show – Top Franceso Caruana and below, the Gozo team with Diane Borg.