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Karate Team Malta lands 3rd Place in International Championship

By Michelle Conti | In Achievements, News | on October 4, 2022

In an inspiring display of skill, determination, and perseverance, Team Malta has made their home island proud by placing overall 3rd at this year’s eighth edition of the Small States of Europe Karate Championships. The 2022 edition of the annual tournament saw 222 athletes from eight different nations gather in Liechtenstein to compete across 61 categories.

Despite stiff competition in this year’s championship, Team Malta achieved the result with coaches Joseph Mizzi, Josef Antonelli, Michelle Vella, and Relja Mijanovic at the helm. The team, comprised of 37 athletes aged 12 – 26, trained tirelessly in the run-up to the event and saw their efforts pay off in the form of 10 Gold medals, 2 Silver, and 26 Bronze.

Making his mark on the tournament this year was returning contender 23 year-old Luke Galea, who claimed 2 Gold medals in both the Male Kumite -84kg and the Male Kumite Open categories – and earned a special mention by the World Karate Federation. Galea, who has not competed since 2018, said of the victory, “It’s good to be back on the Tatami. It feels like home”.

Another standout athlete of the event was 16 year-old Jessica Vella, who brought home 2 Gold medals and 1 Bronze – the most amount of medals for the team from any single participant. Winning 1st place in the Junior Kata female category, 1st place in the team Kata (with Francesca Saliba and Evie Roadley-Battin), and 3rd place in the senior Kata female category, Vella said of the accomplishment, “Another small step made from a long road to great success.Thank you to all those that sacrifice their time and energy for me to conquer my dreams”.

Other notable highlights of the event included a Gold medal win for 26 year-old Gabriel Camilleri and 19 year-old Kai Leyshon, 2 Gold medal wins for the team’s youngest members Mikele Bonnici and Jenna Awad in the Under 14s division, and an impressive performance from Thyis Antonelli who defeated a World Youth Cup medalist by 8 points only halfway through their bout.

As the tournament drew to a close, Matthew Vella, Dimitar Petrov and Daniel Spearing captivated the arena and clinched Gold in the Senior Team Kata with Bunkai – a historic first for Team Malta. Foreign coaches were seen approaching the team and commending the Maltese performance in a friendly show of grace and sportsmanship.

Special thanks went to team officials Jesmond Schembri & Audrey Zammit, and national referees Anthony Zammit, Susan Sciortino, Jason Edwards, Cristina Tonna & Frankie Vella, who were accredited as international referees and also served as judges during the championship.

The 2023 Small States of Europe Karate Championships will take place in Luxembourg.

Mr Kenneth Abela, MKF President thanked SportMalta and MOC for their ongoing support.

Karate Tim Malta jiġi t-Tielet Post f’Kampjonat Internazzjonali

F’wirja spettakolari ta’ ħila, determinazzjoni, u perseveranza, Tim Malta irnexxielu jagħmilna kburin billi jakkwista t-tielet post fit-Tmien Edizzjoni tal-Kampjonati tal-Karate tal-Istati ż-Żghar tal-Ewropa. F’din l-edizzjoni, li saret ġewwa l-Liechtenstein, ħadu sehem 222 atleta minn tmien pajjiżi biex jikkompetu f’61 kategorija.
Minkejja l-kompetizzjoni iebsa li affaċċjaw din is-sena, Tim Malta irnexxielu jakkwista riżultat ferm tajjeb bis-saħħa tal-Kowċis Joseph Mizzi, Josef Antonelli, Michelle Vella u Relja Mijanovic. It-tim, li ikkonsista minn 31 atleta ta’ etajiet bejn 12 – 26 il-sena, ippreparaw ruħhom bla waqfien u rnexxielhom jakkwistaw 10 midajli tad-deheb, 2 tal-fidda u 26 tal-bronż.
Bla dubju, atleta li ħalla impressjoni kbira kien Luke Galea ta’ 23 sena, li riċentament irritorna għall-Karate wara żmien wieqaf. Galea, li rebaħ żewġ midalji tad-deheb fil-Kumite tal-irġiel taħt l-84kg kif ukoll fl-Open, irnexxielu jiġbed l-attenzjoni tal-Federazzjoni mondjali tal-Karate li saħansitra semmietu b’ismu. Galea, li ilhu ma jikkompeti mill-2018 qal li jħossu f’postu u esprima s-sodisfazzjon tiegħu li jkun lura fuq it-Tatami.
Atleta oħra li spikkat kienet Jessica Vella ta’ 16 il-sena, li akkwistat żewġ midalji tad-deheb u waħda bronż – l-ikbar ammont ta’ midalji għal atleti individwali f’Tim Malta. Vella, li ġiet l-ewwel post fil-kategorija tal-bniet tal-Junior Kata, l-ewwel post fit-tim Kata (flimkien ma Francesca Saliba u Evie Roadley-Battin), u t-tielet post fil-kategorija tal-adulti tal-Kata, qalet li dan il-kampjonat kien “pass ieħor żgħir f’numru ta’ suċċessi kbar. Grazzi lil dawk kollha li ssagrifikaw ħinhom u l-enerġija tagħhom sabiex jgħinuni nagħmel il-ħolm tiegħi realta’”.
Highlights oħrajn kienu midalja tad-deheb għal Gabriel Camilleri u Kai Leyshon ta’ 26 sena u 19 il-sena rispettivament, żewġ midalji tad-deheb għal Mikele Bonnici u Jenna Awad li huma l-iżgħar parteċipanti fil-kategorija ta’ taħt l-14 il-sena, u l-prestazzjoni impressjonanti ta’ Thyis Antonelli li għelbet kontestanta li kisbet midalja fil-World Youth Cup, bi tmien punti qabel l-ewwel nofs tal-ġlieda.
Lejn l-aħħar tal-kampjonat, Matthew Vella, Dimitar Petrov u Daniel Spearing ħolqu spettaklu, u għall-ewwel darba fl-istorja ta’ Tim Malta, akkwistaw midalja tad-deheb fil-Kata tal-adulti bil-Bunkai. Bosta Kowċis barranin sfaw impressjonati u kkumplimentaw din il-prestazzjoni Maltija.
Grazzi speċjali tmur għall-uffiċjali tat-Tim Jesmond Schembri u Audrey Zammit, u r-referees Nazzjonali Anthony Zammit, Susan Sciortino, Jason Edwards, Cristina Tonna u Frankie Vella, li ġew imħabbra bħala referees Internazzjonali fil-kampjonat, filwaqt li servew bħala judges.
Id-disa’ edizzjoni tal-Kampjonati tal-Karate tal-Istati ż-Żghar tal-Ewropa ser issir il-Lussemburgu fl-2023.
Il-president tal-Federazzjoni s-sur Kenneth Abela rringrazzja lil Sport Malta u l-KOM tas-sapport kontinwu tagħhom.

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