Maltese young athletes have enjoyed successful and multi-medalled experience at the 17th Edition of the European Kids Athletics Games held in Brno, in the Czech Republic. The Maltese youngsters, aged 11 to 15 joined over 1,800 from other countries including larger nations such as Italy, Poland and Croatia.
Malta was present with a strong contingent of 48 boys and girls, hailing from five local clubs, with Rush AC and Pembroke Athleta providing the lion’s share of athletes (18 and 15 respectively), with the rest forming part of the La Salle, Aloysians and Zurrieq Wolves teams.
The delegation came back with a string of notable performances, topped with a number of medals in highly competitive track and field events. In consideration of the strong athletes competing in Brno, such results reflect the process registered by the athletics movement in recent years and bodes well for future prospects.
These Games will surely remain fond in the memories of Thea Parnis Coleiro and Matthew Azzopardi. Rush AC’s Parnis Coleiro has not only claimed gold in the 60m and silver in the long jump but was also awarded the honour of best performance of the games in her age group. A similar accolade was achieved by La Salle’s Matthew Azzopardi in the 2009 category after his gold medal in the 800m in the Under 14 competition, which he won in an age category record time.
Malta’s flag was well-honoured through other succesful results including gold by Nick Bonett (Pembroke) in the 150m race while Luca Gerarda (Rush AC) won silver in the Javelin and a bronze in the shotput. In two exciting races, Malta was on the podium in both 4x60m relays, with the boys bringing home silver and they girls bronze. For the boys, all hailing from Pembroke Athleta, it was also an age category record (U/14). The 4×300 mixed group, hailing from Rush AC achieved a category record in the Under 16.
A number of other Maltese youngsters reached the final of their respective competition, with a few missing a podium place by a whisker. These incldued Thea Shoemake (Rush AC), Bianca Shoemake (Rush AC), Kristina Azzopardi (Pembroke), Zach Mansaray (Rush AC), Kayla Slack (Rush AC), Elya Azzopardi (Pembroke), Viola Pizzolato (Rush AC) and Mireya Bugeja (Zurrieq).