As the 2nd European Games progress in Minsk, Team Malta’s committments have seen most of the action happening over the weekend when Jeremy Saywell (Judo), Mikela Galea (Shooting) and Alexander Smyth (Cycling) took part in their respective competitions.
The start of the Games saw a number of logistical challenges that were not of benefit to the Maltese athletes. Nevertheless, they still competed with heart and determination in a field of some of the world’s best athletes, Olympians and Olympic Medallists.
The Games, did not start well for Mikela Galea, who’s shotgun failed to arrive in time for her to practice before her scheduled competitions on Saturday and Sunday. Galea qualified for these Games on her own merit having obtained her slot in the 2018 World Championships, held in Changwong South Korea where she placed 10th. Galea competed for a qualifying place in the final on Saturday and Sunday. Galea’s inexperience and lack of training prior to competition showed against the pool of highly experienced shooters. Galea performed better on Sunday when she started getting used to the range which was very challenging. This showed when the score for entry in the final was very low at 107.
The luck of the draw was certainly not in favour of Jeremy Saywell, when he drew against Ukrainian Georgii Zantaraia, the 3rd seeded judoka at the Games and currently ranked 9th in the world. In the first seconds, Saywell had a good attack, which could have eventually ended in a score, however the huge experience of Zantaraia came in handy when Saywell stopped for 1 second, resulting in Zantaraia throwing him for Ippon. Zantaraia eventually won the European title for 2019 against Matteo Medves from Italy.
Alexander Smyth took part in the 180km Road Race, which saw 141 cyclists take part. The brutal race also saw nineteen cyclists not finishing. Despite having to work on his own due to just one place being allocated to Malta. Throughout the race, Smyth kept his place in the main group. This solid performance saw him finish in 95th Place.
Malta’s last athlete to compete will be Flag Bearer and Montenegro GSSE Gold Medallist Eleanor Bezzina who will be taking part in the Women’s 25m Pistol Qualifications on Tuesday morning.
Maltese Contingent is accompanied by President Mr. Julian Pace Bonello and General Secretary Mr. Joseph Cassar, whilst Maltese Olympic Committee’s Director of Sport Mr. Ivan Balzan is also undertaking Chef de Mission duties.