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19970609_Rousing welcome for athletes

    The Maltese contingent arrived yesterday afternoon in Malta after their successful participation in the European Games for Small States in Iceland. They were given a rousing welcome by numerous relatives and friends who packed the arrivals' lounge at Malta International Airport.
    Soon after their arrival, the Malta Olympic Committee for Sport, Dr Joe Chilia, organised a news conference.
    Dr Cilia said there was no doubt this was the best result ever by Maltese athletes away from Malta. 
    He said it would not have been possible had it now been executed with the right preparation and the serious commitment from the MOC, whose chairman, Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco, and the various directors had worked hard towards this success.    
    He said he had been with the athletes since last Thursday and met the President of Iceland ans the Minister of Education and Culture of that country in useful meetings. He also visited the various venues and could say that Malta was lagging behind in some cases.
    He thanked everyone,  athletes, officials and even sponsors, who contributed towards this success.    
    The MOC chairman, Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco said this was one of the best pages in the history of Maltese sport.
    "Winning five gold, ten silver and 12 gold medals meant that we had increased our tally considerably," he said.
    He said he was lucky to have led this group which was a winner in seven of the nine disciplines contested. 
    The MOC chairman said the athletes received continuous backing. "We did everything which was within our possibility to see an improvement and they responded with the results in Iceland. We are very pleased," he said.
    He said the MOC had invested a lot of money in the Iceland and Bari Games and also the Youth Olympic Days in Lisbon.
    Judge Farrugia Sacco made a special mention of Carol Galea "who gave is all a lot of satisfaction. We obtained some fine results overall, even in shooting where our performers did not win any medals. However, they were close to the bronze.
    "I must also say that we were also pleased with the women's volleyball team. They gave us a pleasant surprise, also being close to winning the bronze," he said.
    Judge Farrugia Sacco announced that in the Bari Mediterranean Games, Malta will certainly be represented in bowls, cycling and wrestling.
    "The other disciplines will be decided today," he said.
    Another speaker was Mr Pippo Psaila, the MOC Director of Sport, who said this was a very positive experience.   
    He said that from a group of 86 athletes, over 50 of them had brought over a medal considering that the basketball squads also received a medal each.
    He reiterated that these Games will be the launching pad for the future of Maltese sport.
    "We must realise that this process will take time. The athletes are still young, but they form a sound basis for the future." he said.
    Mr Psaila said he had been disappointed with the results of the shooters, but the others had exceeded expectations.
    He thanked the MOC chairman, the members of the executive committee and the Paliamentary Secretary for Soirtm Dr Joe Cilia, "The positive results achieved in Iceland were the fruit of the work we did together," he said. 
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