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19990314_Good results for Maltese despite tough opposition from foreigners

    The Malta Judo Federation and Associated Disciplines recently organised the 15th International Malta Judo and Kendo Open at Corradino.
    In the Maltacom Judo Open, 54 foreign athletes confronted the national team pool. Judokas  from England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Sicily took part in this ever-growing international event.
    At the opening ceremony, Tony Meilaq, Maltacom chairman, said that he was impressed by the growth in popularity of this sports in Malta and promised his continued support to the Judo Federation which gives such an importance to its youth sector.
    Mr Meilaq comments on judo and its impact on youths coincided with the entrance of a team of very young judokas who the federation call 'Dragons' for the energy they always have in reserve.
    These little 'Dragons' showed some of the skills learned during the nursery lessons sponsored by Maltacom. Nocky Vella finished the short judo show by throwing Chris Busuttil all over the judo mats!
    It was then the turn of Elwanda Libreri and Greta Busuttil to put up a demonstration of their skills in floor gymnastics. Judo and gymnastics are very close in spirit and preparation. A few days ago,  the Education Department held their very successful finals in gymnastics at the same hall. 
    The last item in the opening ceremony was a demonstration of Kendo - the Japanese art of fencing - picking up popularity since its introduction a few years ago and the formation of the Kendo Association last September.
    Now that Shinobu Nakamura (brown belt Kendo) joined the ranks of the Bushido Judo and Kendo Club, any spectator could see the improvement and progress this sport is making .
    The judo events started with the light weight. The 60kg had ten entires, contested by Sicily, England, Italy and Malta. Two athletes competing for their place in the Small Nations Games, Ruben Micallef and Darren Casha, were among the competitors.
    Both qualified second in their pool and made it to the final. However, another Maltese athlete, Clifton Gilford, also made it to second place in his pool to show up in finals.
    Eventually, it was Casha who made it to the podiums after the other two Maltese were bundled out. The two Sicilians won gold and silver while Casha claimed bronze, shared with an English competitor.
    Another Maltese who distinguished herself was Katya Galea who secured the gold in the -44kg and bronze in the -48kg. Galea is contesting a place for the Youth Olympic Days Judo Championships due to be held in Denmark in July.
    Galea's cousin and sister to Darren, Daniela Casha, also placed third in the -52kg category bettering her chances to qualify for the EYOD. Sadia Mizzi, also forming part of the national team, won silver.
    Keith Galea showed excellent performance although he won only bronze. But to do that he had to eliminate strong opponents who hailed from Scotland and Italy.
    It was a pity that four strong members of the national team could not make the Maltese contingent. Jason Trevisan had to retire at the Maltese contingent. Jason Trevisan had to retire at the 11th hour due to personal problems. It is hoped  that Trevisan will iron out his problems as soon as possible so that the sacrifices of dieting to go down one category and long hours of preparation would not be for nothing.
    Laurie Pace was away from the island while Rebecca Wright, Wain Grima and Vanessa Grima Baldacchino had not yet recovered from injuries.
    The national team is now preparing for the Citta di Roma - an international A Class tournament organised at the Olympic Centre in Ostia, Rome.
    The athletes will remain for a week to participate in an international training camp after the event in preparation for the GSSE.
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