Zammit Rodney, currently preparing for the Games of the Small States of Europe, this weekend flew to Udine, in Italy, to compete in the 35th Trofeo Internazzionale Judo « Citta ‘ di Tolmezzo ». He was accompanied by Jeremy Saywell, who is currently recovering from an operation, and Giorgi Kaldani, an International Judo Federation (IJF) qualified coach and a top Georgian athlete, currently in Malta as Rodney’s personal coach and training partner. The Federation took the opportunity of this tournament to launch the 2 young athletes, Clive Camilleri and Lara Castillo, on the International scene abroad. 506 athletes from 8 countries were participating in this event held over 2 days on 4 tatami.
Rodney Zammit competed in the -60kgs which was contested by 6 Judoka. In the first contest, Zammit was taken by surprise by the Austrian Manuel Wiesler who strangled him and thus had to give up. But Zammit was adamant he was bringing a medal back home. He went back to the Tatami and earned his bronze medal like a pro, after strangling the Italian Luciano Alessio. Rodney’s partner, Giorgi Kaldani, competed in the -73kgs which was contested by 9 judoka. Kaldani showed his superiority and experience, and won all 3 opponents in less than a minute, winning the gold medal.
The youngsters Clive Cammileri and Lara Castillo contested the Espoir -60kgs with 17 athletes and Cadet -57kgs with 9 entries respectively.
Lara Castillo started the day in a fantastic way when she catapulted the Italian Versolatto with a massive Ura Nage (rear throw) to earn a place in the Semifinal. Castillo was then up against the Slovenian Barad, who controlled her on the floor and then went on to win gold. Castillo’s bronze medal fight was against another Slovenian, but again, the exposure of international fights of the Slovenian gave her the advantage for her opponent to pin her in osaekomi (hold down).
Clive Camilleri, a student of the National School of Sport, won the first contest with 2 Wazari (a throw in which the opponent is thrown with control and accuracy, but not to the extent of an ippon), and then controlled the opponent for the rest of the duration to win the contest. The inexperience of our Espoir was clear in these fights when Camilleri lost the quarter final match and his fight in the repechage to proceed for Bronze with small mistakes which gave the opportunity for his opponents to proceed in the pool.
All in all, this tournament has been a successful one: Zammit came back with a medal, more experience and more determination for the upcoming games, and the youngsters had their maiden voyage, and are fuelled up to train harder and aim higher. Special thanks go to Jeremy Saywell who also had his maiden voyage as a team manager, but did an excellent job in keeping the team focused while he managed all the paper work and managerial tasks.