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TOKYO 2020 | DAY 1 Update – Bezzina, Abela, Gatt first Maltese to compete in Tokyo 2020

Eleanor Bezzina (Shooting) and Matthew Abela (Badminton) were the first athletes from the Maltese contingent to compete in Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo.

On Sunday morning, Eleanor Bezzina was the first Maltese athlete to take the stage when she competed in the qualifying round of the 10m Air Pistol Competition.

Competing in a field of 53 athletes, with only the first eight making it to the final round, Bezzina competed against higher ranked athletes from the Russian Olympic Committee, Canada, United States etc.  Nonetheless, in spite of month of with no competition or access to training Bezzina gave a good account of herself to finish 26th overall with a final score of 570.

Bezzina will be in action on the 29th and 30th July when she will compete in the 25m Pistol (Precision and Rapid) qualifying events.

Meanwhile at the Musashino Sport Plaza it was Matthew Abela’s turn to compete. Abela is the first Maltese Badminton player to compete in the Olympics.  Currently ranked 333rd in the world, Abela competed in the men’s singles competition.

For the group stage, for which Abela was drawn in Group H, players were divided into 16 groups of between 3 and 4 players each. Each group will play a round-robin. The top player in each group will advance to the knockout rounds.

Sören Opti (Suriname) and Shi You Qi (China) were drawn against Abela in Group H. The former had to forfeit his participation due to a positive Covid-19 test, thus leaving Abela to play against 11th seed Shi.


Nevertheless, Abela gave a good account of himself and inspite of a 2-0 (21-8, 21-9) result going to Shi, Abela fought hard and produced some strong rallies.

Later on in the evening,  Sasha Gatt took part in the 400m freestyle heats. She finished in sixth place with a time of 4:19.78. Her time was just slightly over one second over the current National record which she established in June 2021.  Gatt will return to the aquatics centre tomorrow evening where she will compete in the heats of 1500m freestyle event.