Gozitan athletes achieve great success in Spoleto event
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A group of eight athletes from the Athletix Gozo AC recently took part in the Urban Spoleto crossing 20km in Umbria.
This was made possible for the group from Gozo following an invitation made to the Club by Joe Bajada, who was the leader of the whole group.
Bajada went to the Umbria region as part of the Erasmus + SportGiveChance project that the municipality of Spoleto applied for with the European Union.
During this programme, the Gozitan athletes joined a group of eleven Maltese cyclists who took part in several races on road, as well as mountain bikes.
The Gozitan athletes took part in races held around the ancient winding city streets and alleyways of the historic centre of Spoleto. With each race consisting of nine laps of 2.2km each, including around 75 steps per lap, which made the route more difficult.The Gozitans were determined to get good results and ended up dominating the female category, where Felicienne Mercieca came first with a winning time of 1:34:14. Behind her was Laura Caproricci of Assisi ASD Runners (1:35:10) and third place was achieved by Gozitan Jolene Debattista (1:38:29).
The other Gozitan – Charla Pia Vella – finished fourth in 1:41:22. Also leading her group was Miriam Camilleri who finished as the first lady in the 40+ category in a winning time of 1:48:52.
In the Male category, Leigh James Marshall of the same Athletix Gozo AC, finished third overall in 1:23:34. This category was won by Elwis Pieller of Polosportiva Santorso Aosta (1:15:54), while the second place went to Fabio D’Atanasio of Valore Salute, Forti e Veloci (1:19:31).
There were representatives from several international clubs and organisations that participated; Italy, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, and Hungary.
After her unexpected success, Felicienne Mercieca said, “this was undoubtedly a wonderful experience; the race was not an easy one because it contained many elevations but the surroundings were truly beautiful. About the New York marathon, I know it will be a very challenging one as it will be over a longer distance, but I look forward to it because it is one of the most beautiful marathons in the world.”
For Jolene Debattista, the Spoleto race was also a great experience that she will remember. Saying that “as a route, it was not an easy one. However, I really enjoyed the running scenery that the wonderful Spoleto provided. I am very excited as in a few weeks I will be running the prestigious New York marathon. Last November I took part in the Athens Marathon in Greece. I’m so pleased to be going to New York, not only to race but also to combine it with raising funds for AKTIV Against Cancer.
Charla Pia Vella speaking about her time in Spoleto said that, “it was a great experience and at the same time was good preparation for the New York marathon. During our stay in Italy, we found a lot of help and would like to have more such opportunities because we lack such races. Participating in New York will undoubtedly be a new and unique experience and I hope it will be the personal success that it was for me in Spoleto.”
Miriam Camilleri said, “this was a very successful participation and has occurred thanks to the invitation made to us by Joe Bajada, who was the head and brain of the whole group, including both Gozitan athletes and the Maltese cyclists.”
“With the results gained, we have kept a very high reputation for Gozitan Sports, despite the course not being an easy one. Undoubtedly this experience will help us in the very difficult New York Marathon,” she added.
Leigh James Marshall commented, “I was very fortunate to have had this opportunity to take part in the 20Km Spoleto as part of a team of Gozitans and Maltese who traveled to Italy. I was also lucky enough to spend a few days along with everyone in this beautiful region of Umbria. Apart from the Spoleto race, I also took part the day before in the Pineto Park Run in the City of Rome, finishing there in the first place over a distance of 5km.”
“On the Spoleto race, this took place in the old part of Spoleto where there were many narrow streets and even stairs. However, this course has been interesting and made this international race more enjoyable. I had to run a hard race to finish in the third position. For me, all in all, it was a great experience and left many beautiful memories.”
Four of these Gozitan athletes, together with Agnes Mizzi will participate in the New York Marathon this November.
This project Erasmus+ SPORTGIVECHANCE in Spoleto was very successful in all respects. The main objectives were to promote spontaneous involvement in sporting activities, as well as social inclusion, equal opportunities, and the growing awareness that physical activity improves health through widespread participation and equal access to a full social community.
The Municipality of Spoleto applied for this project, in collaboration with other municipalities in Umbria, along with all foreign teams coming from 16 different European countries.
The sports events organisation researched their knowledge about the sport and physical activity to promote health, well-being and social inclusion. Surely the presence of Umberto Poli, an Italian Pro cyclist of Team Novo Nordisk, was really a matter of great importance in all this.
During this project, there was a major contribution to increasing the capacity of initiatives and dialogue to promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities.
“Although people from so many European countries and cultures took part, they felt united in a common goal where many people have created friendships and human relationships that will certainly continue to collaborate with each other in the future.”
Report – Joe Bajada