Maltese athletes reported mixed performances at the Balkan Championships held in Kraljevo, Serbia. At the end of the gruelling season, Maltese athletes competed alongside several strong athletes from Central and Eastern Europe, including from strong sporting nations such as Ukraine, Bulgaria, Croatia and the hosts, Serbia.
Luke Micallef brought to an end a remarkable season with a valiant performance on the 5000m race, in which he placed fifth in a personal best of 14:38.66. In the same event, Simon Spiteri came in seventh with 15:18.70. Micallef was back on track less than 24 hours later completing the 3000m steeplechase in a very strong time of 9:13.0. Spiteri placed fourth in the 3000m with an 8:44.46.
Janet Richard completed her 400m in 53.92s to finish in fifth place. Malta road running champion Lisa Bezzina struggled through an injury to complete the 5000m race in 18:58.06. Sana Grillo, the only field athlete for Malta in this event, jumped 3.40m in the pole vault.
The athletes were accompanied by Coach Zeljko Aras.
Also in Eastern Europe a team of four young prospects were in Maribor for the annual European Youth Summer Olympic Festival. For last year’s medallist Matthew Galea Soler the fortunes were reversed, missing out on a place in the 400m final for just a tenth of a second despite a strong 48.67s timing, and then suffering a hamstring strain in the 200m heat forcing him out of the Games. Isaac Bonnici set a new 800m record for the Under 18 category with a 1.57’27 timing, while Jeremy Cassar jumped 6.14m in the long jump.
Malta’s next international commitment will see a small contingent taking part at the European Under 20 Championships in Israel during the second week of August.
The participation of the Maltese athletes in the above events was supported by the Maltese Olympic Committee and SportMalta.