These last weeks have been busy for the Malta Judo Federation (MJF) with the Cadet, Junior and Senior teams participating in several events.
The first international event after the Summer Break was for Cadet Judoka Francesco Aufieri’s participation at the Judo Cup in Koper in Slovenia, where he encountered TRIPLAT Aljaž (SLO) and PATTELIS Alexandros (GRE). Aufieri was accompanied by Marcon Bezzina and Murman Korchilava who then proceeded to Rome for the Olympic Training Camp.
The Italian Judo Federation, on behalf of the European Judo Union, hosted 120 judoka from 17 countries at the state of the art judo centre in Ostia, Rome for the OTC – Going for Gold camps. The Maltese delegation consisted of Murman Korchilava, Isaac Bezzina and Marcon Bezzina accompanied by the National Coach Alex Bezzina. 15 nations, including Malta, then competed at the Women European Open. In the -63kgs, Marcon was drawn against Valentina Giorgis from Italy (3rd place at the European Championships U23). Though Giorgis is a left hand judoka, Marcon was doing well in anticipating and controlling the attacks of Giorgis, however, the extensive experience of Giorgis meant that Marcon succumbed to her throws, losing the contest. Giorgis proceeded to winning the bronze medal at this event. Envic Galea, MJF President and European Judo Union (EJU) General Secretary, attended the event on behalf of the EJU. Louisa Galea, EJU Marketing Executive, assisted the Italian Judo Federation with the organisation and protocol.
The next event was the World Junior Championships. Isaac Bezzina, last year as Junior athlete, competed at this prestigious event, which was organised in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Isaac was accompanied by his coach and father Alex Bezzina. The five-day event saw 611 judoka from 75 countries competing for 16 individual world titles and 2 team titles. 40 Judoka contested the -90kgs. Isaac gave a good performance on the mat, but succumbed to the strong throw of De Vreeze (NED) (Cadet European Champion and Bronze Medallist at the Junior European Championships). These championships were highlighted with some history making events, such as the first male World Junior Gold Medal for Italy, won by Antonio Esposito, and the first ever World Junior Gold Medal for Croatia, won by Barbara Matic. Louisa Galea was part of the organizing committee for these games, liaising with the International Judo Federation.
The Sankaku International Judo Tournament, welcomed over 1000 athletes from 9 countries in Bergamo. The Maltese delegation consisted of Marcon Bezzina, Francesco Aufieri and Cormack Spiteri, accompanied by Alexis Milne, General Treasurer of the Malta Judo Federation. Since Marcon had just made her weight for the European Open, Marcon competed in the -70kgs. Marcon was drawn bye in the first round and her first contest was against Elizabeth García from Mexico. Garcia is part of the Mexican Junior National Squad, and had just competed in the World Junior Championships in Ljubljana. There was no apparent advantage for either of the girls throughout the contest, which meant that the match had to continue until one of the girls scored the golden score. Just few seconds into the golden score time, Marcon threw Garcia for Wazari (10 points) with a seoi nage (shoulder technique) thus moving to the next round. In the semi-final, Marcon was up against the Italian Margherita Truglia (6 podiums at the Italian Junior and Senior National Championships), a team member of the Centro Sportivo Fiamme Oro. Truglia threw our Marcon with uchimata (inner thigh throw) for Wazari (10 points). Marcon tried to throw Truglia with Uranage (sacrifice back throw), but Truglia countered Marcon’s throw to score another Wazari thus winning the contest and proceeding to the Final. As Marcon had made it through the quarter finals, she had an opportunity to fight for bronze. Her contest was against the Italian Dalilda Sina. Marcon spent half of the contest studying her opponent until she found the right occasion to pull her down to the floor and strangle her until Sina gave up. Taking into consideration Marcon was fighting in a higher category, winning a bronze medal in this tournament was a great success for Marcon.
Meanwhile in Malta, 2 Ranking Events were held mainly for the Espoir and Cadet events. The President, Mr Envic Galea, and the Sports Director, Mr Alex Bezzina, followed the contests and in general had a very positive feeling towards the future of the sport, as there were several young Judoka with talent.