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19990526_Laurie pace defies odds to land gold

    Laurie Pace yesterday defied all odds in Vaduz to clinch an elusive gold medal which had slipped off her grasp since her first participation in Malta way back in 1993.
    Pace yesterday won her 57kg pool after having the better of Margaret Ragna (Iceland), Mariette Dostert (Luxmebourg), Maria Carmen Fernandez (Andorra) and Penelope Stavrinou(Cyprus).
    Jason Trevisan (73kg), Tonio Schembri (90kg) and Rebecca Wright (52kg) won a silver medal while Caroline Attard (63kg) was a bonze medallist to push judo's haul in Liechtenstein to five medals.
    In each of her previous three showings in the GSSE, Pace had won a silver medal in the same 61kgs. This time, she had to drop four kilos and although coach Sergei Telliouk's was always confident in he abilities, she needed an extraordinary effort to earn gold. 
    Before the Lie-Games, Pace was contemplating whether to take up coaching as 1997 GSSE gold medallist John Zammit did. However, this success will most probably spur Pace to train harder in her attempt to qualify for Sydney 2000.
    "That will be a fantastic achievement, both for Laurie and the federation," Malta Judo Federation head Envic  Galea said after the bouts were finished. "This year the standard improved tremendously and that partly explains why we did not repeat the same tally we had won in Iceland," he said. 
    In Iceland our judoaks had collected three golds but this time new blood was introduced in the team but all did well in their debut.
    "The team lost some valid players for one reason or another and the coach had to bring in new faces. We are satisfied with our performance."
    Pack took some time to shake off the euphoria after her fantastic triumph. "I had to train hard to achieve my goal. Most probably, these will be my last GSSEs but now i am happy that at last I won a gold medal for Malta.
    "At one point, I was asking myself whether the tough training camps and practising were worth it after all. But then I realised that I had to do it because it was important for me and the federation," she said.
    "The Commonwealth bronze medal in 1990 was perhaps my greatest achievement ever, but this victory in Liechtenstein will always be stamped in my mind for many years to come."
    Russian coach Telliouk was a happy man yesterday. He was expecting something big from his experienced judokas - Pace and Trevisan - but he never expected the newcomers to fight so hard and some of them even won medals at the first time for asking.
    "Our work has started to reap dividends," Telliouk said. "I think we could not have asked for more from the new members in the squad."
    In yesterday's competitions, Schembri finished behind Icelandic J. Blondal; Trevisan was second to Monaco's J. Torzuoli while Wright was pipped to gold by home judoka U. Kaiser. Attard won her bronze medal after finishing third with a Cypriot judoka.