History of Malta Weightlifting

Olympic Weightlifting in Malta 1975 Local History

Malta Amateur Weightlifting Association Even though weightlifting is widely considered as a new sport locally, it certainly is not. The first recorded events of Olympic weightlifting in Malta date back to right after the Second World War, when English service men brought the sport to the island. The first club, situated in the Sliema School, was registered under the name of ‘Malta Premium Physical Culture Club’ and was actually registered with the British Amateur Weightlifting Association. At that time, weightlifting was a mixture of gymnastics, hand balancing, strength feats and bodybuilding. The Maltese showed interest and in the fifties this sport flourished. But the common practice of immigration at the time drove many lifters away from our islands leaving this sport to die a natural death.

It was one of these same immigrants, Charles Mifsud, who decided to return to his homeland and build a solid foundation for the sport of weightlifting in Malta. In the early seventies, Mr.Mifsud achieved the title of Australian National Champion in his category several times. It was disappointing for him, on his return here, to find that no official recognition to his sport existed and no association was registered within the Malta Olympic Committee. Thus the man who will always be known as the ‘father of weightlifting’ in Malta embarked on a mission to create the Malta Amateur Weightlifting Association. The Association was set up in 1975 and was formally recognized by the International Weightlifting Federation at the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976. 

Charles Mifsud was elected in the EWF Technical and Scientific committee member (1991-1995) and EWF Auditors committee member (1999-2003)

Competitions Apart from local competitions and exhibitions held regularly around the island, the M.W.A. successfully organized several International competitions, which apart of having the aim of increasing the popularity of the sport, gave a lot of international exposure both to our athletes and officials. The following is the list of competitions organised by the M.W.A in the past thirty years:

1981 3rd European Small Nations Tournament

1983 Commonwealth Championships

1988 Commonwealth Championships

1990 12th European Small Nations Tournament

1990 Junior European Championships

1993 Friendship Games (Malta – Tunisia – Sicily)

1995 17th European Small Nations Tournament

1999 European Promotion Cup

1999 21st European Small Nations Tournament

2003 25th European Small Nations Tournament

2004 Commonwealth Championships

2005 27th European Small Nations & 1st Charles Mifsud open Tournament

2008 Friendship Games (Malta – Sicily)

2009 31stEuropean Small Nations & 2ndCharles Mifsud open Tournament

2010 5th Mediterranean Cup

2013 35th European Small Nations & 3rd Charles Mifsud open Tournament

2015 9th Mediterranean Cup

2016 3rd European Union Cup & 1st Malta international open

2019 41st European Small Nations & 4th Charles Mifsud open Tournament

2020 Malta International Open (Silver Qualification Event for Olympic Games)

2021 7th European Union Cup

Local Lifters From time to time this sport manages to yield individuals who make their mark and even fair well internationally. First weightlifter in Malta that achieved international success was Charles Azzopardi. Leonard Farrugia, Jesmond Caruana, also attained significant results internationally. Charles Callus obtained good results at the very first Small Nation Games held in San Marino in 1985. Richard Attard and Ian Grech obtained bronze medals in their respective categories at the prestigious Welsh tournament, the Silver Dragon in 1994. In the same competition Simon Brincat acquired the silver medal in his category. In 1999 Michael Micallef earned the Best Lifter award in the Small Nations Tournament held locally. Micallef also established new records in this same tournament. During that period the best athletes showed and achieved their best results after persevering training during their yearly preparations. Mike Micallef, Kevin Cassar and Noel Coliero were awarded and received a medal for such determination. This was a proud moment for these athletes as no other Country ever achieved and won both championships since the founding of the ESNT. Kevin Cassar completed his preparations for the Commonwealth Games in Manchester 2002 after achieving the qualified standard for the games. This was another milestone for the MAWA as the association had an athlete representing it for the first time at these Games. Noel Coleiro obtained the Best Lifter award in the Small Nations Tournament held locally in 2003. In 2004 Noel Coleiro obtained bronze medal in his respective category in the Welsh Silver Dragon tournament. That same year, the female side of this sport received a boost when Rodienne Mifsud received the bronze medal in the Commonwealth Championships. Sadly, by the end of 2004 the Malta Weightlifting Federation received a blow when its founder, the President Mr. Charles Mifsud, passed away. Mr. Mifsud will always be remembered for his exceptional contribution to this sport.

Luckily the fruit of his labour still flourishes today and is still progressing and continuing to bring success to this sport.

2006 Lindsay Borg qualified to represent Malta in the Commonwealth Games in Sydney, Australia. Borg is the first women representing Malta weightlifting in these games.  She finished in 4th place overall in the 75kg Category, she lifted 74kg Snatch and 90kg Clean and Jerk, a very successful finish and a proud moment for Weightlifting in Malta. That same year, Kevin Cassar established new records in the European Small Nations Tournament held in Cyprus in the 85kg category with 120kg Snatch, 146kg Clean & Jerk.

2011 Rodmar Pulis obtained bronze medal in Juniors and Silver medal in Youths in the 77kg category in the Commonwealth Championships in Cape Town, South Africa,  he lifted 93kg Snatch and 117kg C&J. In the same year he also competed in big events like the European Youths in Poland and COJI in Palermo.

2013 a successful year for Rodmar Pulis when he qualified to represent Malta in the Mediterranean Games in Mersin, Turkey. In the 77kg category he lifted 105kg Snatch but unfortunately he could not finish the C&J. The same year another milestone for Malta weightlifting when Rodmar Pulis qualify to represent Malta in the Universiade Games in Kazan, Russia. He competed in the 77kg category and lifted 100kg Snatch and 133kg C&J. 

2013 Nicole Gatt obtained bronze medal in the 53 kg category youths in the Commonwealth Championships in Penang, Malaysia she lifted 50kg Snatch and 68kg C&J.

2014 Jessica Edge qualified and represented Malta in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland she competed in the 53kg category lifting 64kg Snatch and 81kg C&J. The same year Nicole Gatt participated in the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing China. She competed in the 53kg category and lifted 48kg Snatch and 71kg C&J. Gatt was selected flag bearer in the closing ceremony of the games.  During the same year she also competed in the European Youths held in Poland.

2015 Kieran Mifsud qualified and competed in the Youth Commonwealth Games in Apia, Samoa. He lifted in the 94kg category and placed fourth, he lifted 107kg Snatch and 133kg C&J he was selected flag bearer in the opening ceremony. In the same year he ranked in 20th place in the IWF world youth rankings 94kg category. The same year both Mifsud and Rodmar Pulis competed in the European Juniors in Lithuania. 

2016 Rodmar Pulis competed in the European Seniors in Forde Norway, qualification event for the Olympic Games. He saw all the preparation fade away when he injured his shoulder.  Kyle Micallef competed in the IWF grand pix in Iran and obtains the qualification for the Olympics. He become the first Maltese weightlifter that participated in the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, He competed in the 85kg Category but unfortunately (DNF). The same year both Micallef and Yasmin Zammit Stevens competed in the Commonwealth Championships in Penang, Malaysia. 

2017 Yasmin Zammit Stevens, 63kg, was the first female for Malta to participate in the European Senior Championships in Split, Croatia. She finished with 74kg snatch, 90kg clean and jerk and ranked 15th overall. She was accompanied by Kieran Mifsud who lifted in the 105+kg category who finished with 127kg snatch and 160kg clean and jerk. Yasmin Zammit Stevens qualify to represent Malta in the Universiade Games in Taipei. She finished with 74kg snatch and 98kg clean and jerk in the 63kg category. She ranked 19th overall.

Kieran Mifsud (-105kg) and Kyle Micallef (-85kg) represent Malta in the Commonwealth Championships in Gold Coast Australia. Mifsud finished with 130kg snatch and 170kg clean and jerk. Micallef finished with 121kg snatch and 152kg clean and jerk. 

Both Kieran Mifsud and Yasmin Zammit Stevens qualified for the Commonwealth Games in Australia. These Games brought a different qualification system where only 14 participants from all commonwealth countries per category could qualify. Both Mifisud and Zammit Stevens automatically qualified as they ranked 12th and 11th respectively in the overall commonwealth ranking (1 per country) in their category. 

Kieran Mifsud represented Malta in the European Junior Championships in Albania in the 105kg category. He finished with 131kg snatch and 171kg clean and jerk.

2018 Zammit Stevens went on to represent Malta in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast Australia 2018 where she finished in 7th place overall in the 63kg category with a 79kg snatch, 95kg clean and jerk and 174kg total. Yasmin Zammit Stevens qualified for and represented Malta in the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona, Spain. She competed in the 69kg category and finished with 80kg snatch, 105kg clean and jerk and 185kg total. She finished in 5th place in the snatch and 6th in the clean and jerk.

Zammit Stevens together with Rodmar Pulis competed in the University championships held in Biala Podlaska, Poland. Good result from Zammit Stevens finished in 6th Place in the 69kg category lifting 84kg Snatch and 100kg C&J. Pulis competed in the 85kg category and lifted 109kg Snatch and 145kg C&J.

Shelby Mangion Vassallo competed in the European Youths in Milan, qualification competition for Youth Olympics, in the 63kg category she lifted 60kg Snatch and 70kg C&J. Mangion Vassallo become the 2nd athlete competing in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the 63kg category she lifted 62kg Snatch and 76kg c&j.

In November 2018 the IWF changed the weight categories and Zammit Stevens was the first local athlete competing internationally in these new weight groups. The IWF world championships in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, were these where the first qualification event (OQ) for the 2020 Olympic Games.  Zammit Stevens competed in the 64kg category lifting 80kg Snatch and 99kg C&J

2019 Zammit Stevens competed in the European Senior Championships in Batumi, Georgia (OQ). She competed in the 64kg category lifting 86kg Snatch and 103kg C&J. She also competed in the IWF World Championships in Pattaya Thailand (OQ), in the 71kg category lifting 85kg Snatch and 105kg C&J. In The Mediterranean cup in Serraville San Marino (OQ) Zammit Stevens competed in the 71kg category lifting 85kg Snatch and 102kg C&J and placed in 3rd Place.

This year was very successful for the young athlete Tenishia Thornton. In the European Union cup held in Waterford Ireland she won the first medal for Malta since our first participation in 2015. With the B/W of 44.3kg U-15 she lifted 50kg Snatch and 62kg C&J, scoring 190 points and place in third. In the Women Grand Prix in Ljubljana Slovenia she won Gold medal in the U-14 with 191 points. Another two Gold medals came from Thorton and Kim Camilleri Lagana during the Challenge 210 (OQ) in Tramelan Switzerland. Camilleri Lagana competed in the U-13 with body weight of 28.31kg she lifted 27kg Snatch and 35kg C&J scoring 164 points. Thornton competed in the U-15 she lifted 52kg Snatch and 67kg C&J scoring 198 points. Thornton becomes the first local weightlifter competing in the European Under-15 Championships that were held in Eilat Israel.  In 45kg category she lifted 56kg Snatch and 68kg placing 5th in Snatch and 6th in the C&J, she also managed to set new European records in the process of Snatch.

2020 Zammit Stevens competed in the World Cup in Rome in (OQ). She competed in the 64kg category lifting 80kg Snatch and 99kg C&J.

Yasmin Zammit Stevens, Roberta Tabone and Tenishia Thornton qualified to compete in the Malta International Open (Olympic qualification event Silver level). This was the first time in the history of Malta that such event was hosted locally. Good result came from Tenisha Thornton lifting in the 45kg category lifting 55kg Snatch and 70kg Clean & Jerk and win 3 Gold medals. Both Tabone and Zammit Stevens competed in the 71kg category, Tabone lifted 77kg snatch and 96kg C&J, Zammit Stevens lifted 82kg Snatch and 107kg C&J she also managed to win a bronze medal in Snatch.

The year was very difficult because of Covid-19 pandemic, all international competitions were cancelled. By the end of the year the IWF together with Peru weightlifting organised the IWF Online Youth World Cup.  Both Rylee Borg and Tenishia Thornton competed in this event. Borg competed in the 67kg category lifting 78kg snatch and 98kg C&J.

Thornton competed in the 49kg category lifting 71kg Snatch and 84kg C&J she won Silver medal in Snatch and Bronze medal in Total with 154kg, surely that this was the highest achievement ever reached by Malta Weightlifting in the International scene to date.

The Presidents of Malta Weightlifting since 1975

Since its formation in 1975, several individuals served on the committee of the M.W.A.:

Mr. Charles Mifsud the Founder and President till his passing away in 2004.

2005/2006 President Mr. Alfred Ellul Mercer

2006/2009 President Mr. David Saliba

2009/ to present President Mr. Jesmond Caruana

Mr. Jesmond Caruana is also very active in International Weightlifting and he was elected in many different Committees.

2018 Elected Vice-President in the Mediterranean Weightlifting Confederation  2018 -2021
2018 Elected Vice-President Commonwealth Weightlifting Federation  2018 -2022
2017 Elected President of the European Union Confederation 2017-2020
2016 Elected General Secretary of the European Small states  2017-2021
2016 Elected Vice-President of the European Union Confederation 2016-2020
2016 Elected in the European Weightlifting Federation as a member in the technical Committee 2016-2020
2014 Elected Executive board member in the Commonwealth Weightlifting Federation  2014 -2018
2013 Elected Executive board member in the Mediterranean Weightlifting Confederation  2013 -2018
2012 Elected in the Technical and Scientific committee of the  European Weightlifting Federation 2012-2016
2012 Commonwealth Weightlifting appointed as technical delegate for the continent of Europe.
2009  Elected International Sport School member in the Mediterranean Weightlifting Confederation 2009-2013