The annual Malta Weightlifting Association Award Ceremony took place this week where Malta’s top lifters were awarded for their successes during 2019. Evidently, the MWA has had one of it’s most successful year, as was highlighted by MWA president Jesmond Caruana during his opening speech at the ceremony.
The most highly anticipated awards for the night were of course the overall ranked senior athlete award which was given to Olympic hopeful Yasmin Zammit Stevens and Most improved in 2019 which was given to 16 year old Tristan Zammit. However, 14 year old Tenishia Thornton stole the show and won 4 awards on the special night, including the Achievement Award for the 144 national records she broke during 2019, National Champion in the U15, U17, Junior and Senior categories, first ranked youth overall and the most prestigious of the night, the Platinum Award. Indeed, Thornton had an incredible 2019, where she also recently managed to break a European U15 record in the snatch and held the record before another lifter broke it moments after.
Kim Camilleri Lagana, who was the youngest athlete to compete internationally this year, won the award for number one ranked cadet lifter. Camilleri Lagana is only 11 years old and has already accomplished breaking national records, an international appearance, and now winning her first MWA award. Youth athlete and National Sports School student, Rylee Borg was awarded 1st place in the Youth -61kg category as well as an award for ranking in 2nd place in the most improved category.
In the Men’s class; Vlad Baldacchino, Shaun Ciantar and Kyle Micallef were awarded National Champion Awards in the 102kg, 81kg and 89kg categories respectively. Rodmar Pulis and Anton Micallef placed in 2nd and 3rd respectively in the 81kg class. Anton Micallef was also awarded for his tremendous improvement this year, and was in fact the most improved senior athlete and placed in 3rd overall in the most improved category.
Christina Grima won the title of National champion in the 64kg class while Yasmin Zammit Stevens won the same award for the 71kg class. Zammit Stevens, who was also given a Silver Award for her ranking success for 2019, also had a memorable year. Throughout 2019 she managed to win Malta’s first individual Gold medal at the Small Nations Championships as well as improve her world wide ranking after competing successfully at the European and World Championships which were both important qualification event for the upcoming 2020 Olympics. She is currently ranked in a whopping 60th place in the Tokyo 2020 ranking list and only hopes to improve on it in the final period of qualification events next year. Zammit Stevens also placed in second place for most national records broken in 2019.
Bronze level awards were also handed out to Anton Micallef, Vlad Baldacchino and Kim Camilleri Lagana.
The awards were handed out by MOC President, Mr. Julian Pace Bonello, MOC Secretary General, Mr. Joe Cassar and MWA honorary President Mr. Alfred Ellul Mercer.
Jesmond Caruana finished off the night with an important few words of inspiration and encouragement for the upcoming year. Of course, the Olympic Games being the highlight of 2020 in the eyes of any sporting association, Caruana emphasised the significance of the Malta International Open & Olympic Qualification event that will be held in Feb/March next year. Apart from of course Zammit Stevens who is actively attempting to qualify for the upcoming Games, other national lifters will be eligible to compete alongside, what Jesmond announced at the ceremony, over a 150 international athlete who have applied for the meet. Included in the entry list of athletes, we are expected to see the World’s leading lifters fly into our island to compete at Malta’s most awaited weightlifting event for 2020. Furthermore, Caruana emphasised that the associations sights aren’t solely focused on 2020 but beyond it too. He spoke about the investments and important planning the association has been making for the Youth olympic Games in 2022 where he is confident Malta will have a representative, as well as the 2022 Commonwealth Games that will take place in Birmingham.