As another year approaches it’s end, the Malta Weightlifting Association has organised it’s biggest annual competition this past weekend, the National Championships. 2019 has seen a huge improvement in overall athletic level in Maltese weightlifting, specifically with the youth team, with every single competition in 2019 having a respectable amount of high leveled children and seniors competing and the national Championships was no expectation.
The top result from the cadet group came from Nathan Mifsud and Kim Camilleri Lagana. Kim, who is only 11 years old and has already made a name for herself in the sport as part of the national team, finished with 28kg in the snatch and 34kg in the clean and jerk. Her 28kg snatch was good enough for a national record in the 32kg cadet category.
Tenishia Thornton (Senior National Champion -45kg), who needs no introduction at this point, never fails to put on a show. After starting off shaky with a miss in her first snatch attempt at 50kg she managed to shake it off and go on to finish off with her strongest result to date. The 14 year old went on to make her 2nd and 3rd snatch attempts at 50kg and 52kg respectively, then lifting 63kg, 66kg and 68kg in the clean and jerk. Both her 66kg and 68kg clean and jerks were good enough for national records not only in the U-15 age category but also in the U-17, U-20 and U-23! She also set a senior national record with her massive 120kg total. But this was not enough for Thornton. After finishing off her clean and jerks effortlessly, she wanted to attempt rounding off the number to lift 70kg as part of her international participation. The unofficial 4th attempt was probably her strongest one and would have also been another national record in all age groups!
13 year old- Rylee Borg (-61kg), a student at the National Sports School, also managed 3 national records on his way to be named U-15 youth national champion in the 61kg category. He finished with 63kg in the snatch, 76kg in the clean and jerk and 139kg total. Ryan Degiorgio (-73kg) was named Junior National Champion as he finished with a 185kg total.
The seniors group saw a lot of athletes battle for every kilo to claim the top spot in each respective category. Yazmin Zammit Stevens (Senior National Champion -71kg), managed to finish off her national meets for 2019 with a whopping 85kg snatch, 106kg clean and jerk and 191kg total. This is not only a personal best total for her but also good enough for 2 national records. Zammit Stevens, who was not peaking for this competition said she was not expecting this result so early in her preparation phase. Hitting personal best lifts at a non-peaked meet only confirms she is on her way to an exciting year in 2020, and just in time too as the Olympic Games are just round the corner.
Other named national champions in the women’s group were Christina Grima in the 64kg category who managed to lift a total of 145kg and Rebecca Scerri in the 59kg category 2 a total of 129kg.
By far the most entertaining group on the day was the men’s 81kg category, where 3 main athletes were evidently strategically lifting exactly what they needed to outrank each other for the top spot in the group. In the Snatch portion, Shaun Ciantar finished in first place with a 107kg snatch, followed by Anton Micallef with 102kg and a bit far behind Rodmar Pulis with 95kg. At this point it seemed the race for the top place was only between Ciantar and Micallef; however in the clean and jerk portion Pulis quickly joined the race with his much stronger clean and jerks. After missing his first attempt at 117kg, Ciantar managed to go on to make 117kg and 123kg on his 2nd and 3rd attempts, finishing with a 230kg total. Micallef made his 1st and 2nd attempts at 120kg and 124kg but missed 129kg on his third attempt, the attempt that would have pushed him ahead of Ciantar. Pulis then joined in the race as he made 132kg on his second attempt, enough to claim 2nd place overall in the 81kg category. He even attempted 136kg on his last attempt for a chance for gold. Unfortunately he was not successful and therefore the 81kg category finished with Shaun Ciantar being named National champion.
Kyle Micallef (-89kg), who has been out of the weightlifting game for a while, came back strong winning the title of National champion on the 89kg category after managing a 111kg snatch, 140kg clean and jerk and 251kg total. In the 102kg category, Vlad Baldacchino was not only named national champion but also broke 2 national records in the process. He finished with the biggest snatch seen on the day at 130kg, and a whopping 155kg clean and jerk.
In the final month of 2019, Tenishia Thornton will be representing Malta for the first time at the European Youth championships in Eilat, Israel. Also, a senior team made up of Yazmin Zammit Stevens, Roberta Tabone, Shaun Ciantar and Vlad Baldacchino will be heading to London to compete in Crystal Palace, In both cases, the teams will be accompanied by national team coach Jesmond Caruana.