The first ranking and qualification event for 2019 for the Maltese Weightlifting Association saw another incredible day of lifting at the Cottonera Sports Complex. With a new venue and a new professional elevated competition platform, the weekend provided many highlights.
The meet saw many new faces participating for the first time as well as some well known athletes who are back on the platform ready to prove themselves as they prepare for another great year of lifting.
In a hugely entertaining women’s group, Yazmin Zammit Stevens broke the first senior national record of 2019 and in the newly established weightlifting categories. Zammit Stevens finished the competition is a routine 83kg snatch and 95kg clean and jerk, breaking 5 national records in the process. Even though the team is yet to be announced, she is the favourite from the women’s group to make part of the European Small Nations team which will take place in a few months here in Malta. More importantly, she has qualified for the next qualifier event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the European Championships in Georgia this April.
U-15 youth athlete, Tenishia Thornthon, wowed the audience as she finished with 8 national records in both the youth U-15 and U-17 age categories at only 13 years old. She lifted a snatch of 45kg and a clean and jerk of 60kg weighing in at 44kg bodyweight. Thornton is another national athlete who is showing substantial improvement and promise towards a successful year on the international platform. Another youth athlete, 15 year old Shelby Mangion Vassallo lifted 2 national records with her 61kg snatch and 134kg total.
There’s no doubt the national female weightlifting team is proving to be very strong in all age groups, with a new addition this year making it even stronger. The youngest athlete of the entire competition at only 11 years old, Kim Camilleri Lagana, competed like a professional at this meet, and also managed to set some new cadet national records in the process.
The men’s groups also provided many highlights, with an interesting shake up in the ranking of the athletes from 2018. This shake up will prove to be crucial for the selection of athletes for the upcoming European Small Nations coming up this March. By far the biggest surprise came from veteran athlete, Anton Micallef. He weighed in at a lower bodyweight from the usual, and finished with a personal best sinclair point result. Micallef lifted a 104kg snatch and 128kg clean and jerk who managed to break 2 national records. This result will definitely put him in the mix for the national team selection. Shaun Ciantar, Matthew Camilleri and Martin Pisani also had respectable results on the day, finishing with comfortable lifts to register their first result for the year.
The best results came from senior athlete Vlad Baldacchino and youth athlete Rylee Borg. 12 year old Rylee, who attends the National School of Sports, finished with 52kg snatch and 63kg clean and jerk, both being lifetime personal best lifts for him. Furthermore, Vlad Baldacchino who managed to break 4 national records as he lifted 120kg snatch and 140kg clean and jerk. Baldacchino is also the favourite from the male group to be selected for the national team for the Small Nations. The team will be made up of 3 male athletes and 2 female athletes and will be announced by the MWA in the upcoming weeks.
The new platform used on the day was a huge investment project by the MWA and SportMalta. This new stage is the type of platform you would see being used in major international events. The huge investment done on this platform will prove to be an important one as the MWA will hope to start organising more and more international competitions on our island, not only of a small scale but also some major championships too.
The European Small Nations in March will be testing out the stage for the first time for an international event. More details regarding time table and dates of the event will be published closed to the date, however the MWA already encourage the Maltese public to keep the weekend between 23rd and 25th of March free to come and show maximum support to the Maltese National team competing on the day.