Team Malta delivered one of its best performances ever at the Comité d’Organisation des Jeux des Iles (COJI) in Sicily. The medal tally from Maltese athletes was brought to fifty three medals – 10 Gold, 11 Silver and 32 Bronze.
Team Malta, which was made up of athletes aged between 14 and 16 years of age, competed in field of over 1,000 athletes representing twelve countries – the Azores, Balearic Islands, Corfù, Corsica, Elba, Guyana, Jersey, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Sicily and Sardegna.
Medals were won in all the disciplines Malta took part in – Athletics, Gymnastics, Karate, Table Tennis, Sailing and Swimming.
Athletics produced the highest Gold medal tally with 7 medals, whilst a further 8 Silver and 4 Bronze medals were also brought home by the Athletics team. Remarkable performances were registered by the El Aida Chaffey twins – Jacob and Omar, the former claiming three Gold medals, whilst the latter claimed two Gold and two Silver medals. Notable performances were registered by Sarah Chouhal who claimed two gold medals in Relay and Hammer and a Bronze in the 400m, showing a comfortable transition from field to track. Other noteworthy performances were registered by Alessia Cristina, Rachela Pace and Suzanne Buttigieg in the female relay race who brought another Gold for Malta. Mariah Zahra’s efforts in Discus also brought a Gold Medal. Kurt Zahra, a member of the male relay gold medal winning team, registered a national best in the 200m and is the first Maltese U16 athlete to register a time below 23 seconds in the 200m race.
Swimming brought in the highest tally of medals with two silver in the Male and Female relay teams and eighteen bronze medals in the various disciplines. Apart from the medals won, Maltese swimmers also registered some personal best timings against some more experienced athletes. The highest medal tally was claimed by Emily Grech Carr with one Silver and six Bronze medals.
Table Tennis was next with six bronze medals through the efforts of Anthea Cutajar, May Zahra, James Vella Vidal and Conrad Puli. This is the first time that Table Tennis won medals in these Games. The team was also awarded the trophy for 3rd place overall.
Gymnastics scored well in Floor, Vault and Beam bringing home four medals, three of which were won by with Ella Borg who scored Gold (Vault), Silver (Beam) and Bronze (Floor), whilst Rebecca Xuereb claimed another Bronze (Vault) for Malta.
Karate saw Joelle Farrugia land Gold in Kumite (sparring) whilst Sean Micallef took Bronze in Kata (Forms) Cadets.
Sailing saw the young Richard Schultheis claim Gold, whilst Saul Vassallo took Bronze. Despite their young age, both athletes compete regularly abroad and will now proceed to compete in the forthcoming World Championships.
“This was one of the best years in terms of results, however it is not just due to the medals won, which was remarkable but also due to the fact that a number of national records were beaten and personal bests achieved. These Games give a good start to international competitions for our young and promising athletes. ” explained Chef de Mission and Maltese Olympic Committee Media Director Maria Vella-Galea. “Another particularly satisfactory aspect to these Games is the sense of friendship and camaraderie between Maltese athletes – the amount of support they gave each other was truly commendable”.
The COJI Games came to an end with a closing ceremony held in Catania. Malta was awarded the 7th Place trophy which was collected by Chef de Mission Maria Vella-Galea who was accompanied by Jacob El Aida Chaffey and Sarah Chouhal, as the two athletes who obtained the most medals.
Sicily won the overall trophy, followed by Corsica and the Balearic Islands.
Team Malta Medal Table – COJI 2018 Sicilia
Gold Medals – 10
Relay (100-200-300-400) – Daniel Borg Ferrando, Kurt Zahra, Omar El Aida Chaffey, Jacob El Aida Chaffey
Relay (100-200-300-400) – Suzanne Buttigieg, Rachela Pace, Alessia Cristina, Sarah Chouhal
100m – Jacob El Aida Chaffey
200m – Jacob El Aida Chaffey
400m – Omar El Aida Chaffey
Hammer – Sarah Chouhal
Discus – Mariah Zahra
Ella Borg (Beam)
Silver Medals – 11
100m – Omar El Aida Chaffey
200m – Alessia Cristina
200m – Omar El Aida Chaffey
Long Jump – Rachela Pace
Hammer – Mireya Cassar
Hammer – Karol Spiteri
Shot Put – Mireya Cassar
Discus – Mireya Cassar
Ella Borg (Vault)
4 x 100m Relay – Sasha Gatt, Emily Grech Carr, Victoria Montfort and Hailey Pawley.
4 x 100m Relay – Michele Azzopardi, Jovan Lekic,Timmy Hansford, Luke Sullivan
Bronze Medals – 32
100m – Alessia Cristina
100m – Kurt Zahra
400m – Sarah Chouhal
Javelin – Mireya Cassar
Ella Borg (Floor)
Rebecca Xuereb (Vault)
50m Freestyle – Emily Grech Carr
50m Backstroke – Emily Grech Carr
50m Breast – Maya Galea
50m Breast – Michele Azzopardi
100m Breast – Michele Azzopardi
100m Breast – Maya Galea
100m Back – Emily Grech Carr
100m Free – Luke Sullivan
100m Free – Sasha Gatt
200m Freestyle – Sasha Gatt
200m Freestyle – Jovan Lekic
200m back – Emily Grech Carr
400m Freestyle -Jovan lekic
400m Freestyle – Sasha Gatt
800m Freestyle – Emily Grech Carr
1500m Freestyle – Andre Camilleri
4 x 100m IM – Boys – Timmy Hansford, Luke Sullivan, Michele Azzopardi, Jovan Lekic
4 x 100m IM – Girls – Sasha Gatt, Maya Galea, Emily Grech Carr, Hailey Pawley
Mixed Doubles – James Vella Vidal/ May Zahra
Ladies Doubles – Anthea Cutajar / May Zahra
Mens Doubles – James Vella Vidal/Conrad Puli
Boys Team – James Vella Vidal/Conrad Puli
Girls Team – Anthea Cutajar / May Zahra
Girls Singles – Anthea Cutajar
Photo Credits: Keith Bartolo, Roberto de Santis, Anna Rossi, Maria Vella-Galea, Johanna Grech, Joseph Mizzi