The Malta Judo Federation, to keep up the momentum of international events, has put together a team to attend the 36th International Trophy of Tolmezzo. 13 athletes from the Espoir (12 – 14 years), Cadet (15 – 17 years), Junior (under 21 years) and Senior categories, accompanied by the Youth Director Mr Joseph Castillo and 3 other coaches and officials travelled to the North of Italy last weekend. 472 athletes from 8 countries competed at this event.

The event started with the Espoirs. The girls, Kirsty Cauchi and Estelle Camilleri brought the first successes to team Malta. In the -52kgs, Estelle Camilleri lost her first bout but won spectacularly with the Italian Coradazzi, throwing her with O-Goshi (major hip throw) for wazari  (half point) and proceeding to a perfect transition to pin the opponent down for another wazari winning a ticket for the bronze medal fight. However, she was then beaten by the Italian Mari, who had taken Kirsty Cauchi off the track to gold. Kirsty continued in the repechage, winning her bronze medal with fusen gachi, when her opponent did not show up. Estelle placed 5th. Also in the Espoir category was twelve-year-old Kris Samuel Bartolo. 15 judoka were fielded in the -42kgs. Even if he gave a good show against last year’s tolmezzo winner he failed to secure a good grip to throw. In the repechage fight he lost his fight, placing 9th.

In the cadet categories, Owen Cauchi contested the -55kgs. This was his first opportunity at an Tournament abroad. He lost his first 2 bouts but in the 3rd one he followed the suggestions of Sensei Castillo on Kumikata schemes and won with a Wazari and hold down. In his bout for bronze the referee decided to penalise him 3 times, resulting in a very dubious hansokumake (suspension), finishing 4th. The -66kgs cadet category was 1 of the biggest categories and was contested by 20 judoka. Clive camilleri started off with a fantastic ippon from a counter attack. In the quarter final, Clive lost to the Italian Andrijczuk, who eventually won bronze. In the repechage, Clive made his return with 2 fantastic Sasai Tsurikomiashi (leg technique) resulting in an ippon. In the next bout, Clive was controlling the Italian Mircea, until Mircea took the opportunity to him until he gave up. Clive finished in 7th place and Mircea won the other bronze medal.

In the 73kgs juniors, Malta had 2 judoka, Kurt Butters and Andreas Castillo. Even though the rules allow for only 30 seconds for an opponent to turn up, Butters had to wait over 2 minutes and thus lost concentration. He still managed to pull together a fantastic attack, but it wasn’t strong enough to win a point. His opponent then threw him for what should have been a wazari (half a point), but the referee decided that it was an Ippon, and thus lost the contest. Unfortunately, his opponent did not make it to the next stage and thus Kurt did not make it to repechage. Castillo lost his bout to his first opponent but was recovered in the repechage. Castillo had great grips and was controlling the fight, but eventually lost with a counter. Nathan Falzon competed for the first time abroad in the junior -81kgs which was contested by 4 athletes. In his 2nd bout he was winning by wazari but the lack of experience lead him to lose his bouts, placing 4th.

In the senior categories, Malta had Alanis Cardona in the -52kgs. Alanis has changed sport to Judo from wrestling just 2 months ago. Although she lost her bouts, she is a strong judoka who fights with determination and should see improvement in the near future. The other female judoka, Rosemary Sammut was uncontested in the -48kgs. She played 2 friendlies.  In the first bout, Rosemary made a great attack, but somehow the referee decided to award the point to the opponent. However, she made her comeback in the 2nd bout winning it. David Cucic contested the -90kgs category, when his usual category is the -81kgs. The difference in power and size could be easily seen in his bouts, and eventually he lost both bouts. Luca Montebello tried out his new category, the -100kgs. He won his 3rd bout convincingly, however, as 3 of the judoka won 1 fight each, the time was taken into consideration, and Luca’s was the longest bout, thus he placed an undeserved 5th.

Jeremy Saywell had his comeback to competition. He finished the first contest against the Italian Belfio with a massive ura-nage (rear throw) in less than a minute. The 2nd bout against the Italian Tassotto didn’t go as planned, when Jeremy tried to throw again for ura-nage but made a mistake and the opponent took advantage, resulting in an ippon against Jeremy. His last bout was a fusen-gachi, as his opponent was injured and did not turn up for the bout. Jeremy thus landed a silver medal for Malta.

The team has already continued with its training, and the federation is already planning its next events locally and internationally. Stay tuned by following our page Malta Judo Federation & Associated Disciplines.