Young sprinter Matthew Galea Soler rewrote history books for Maltese sport at the European Youth Olympic Festival when he secured a bronze medal in the 400 metres final in Banska Bystrica in Slovakia on Thursday.
Starting on lane one in the final, Galea Soler stormed around the track to cross the finish line in an excellent time of 48.84 seconds to place third overall.
It was a marvellous display by Galea Soler who became Malta’s first ever medallist at these Games. His time was a new national record in the U-18, U-20 and U-23 age groups as well as a new personal best.
His previous best time was 49.09 seconds he had set in June this year.
Israel’s Noam Mamu won the gold medal after topping the race in a new personal best time of 47.60 seconds.
Spain’s Fabian Parada Vidal took the silver medal when he crossed the finish line in a time of 48.66 seconds, just ahead of Galea Soler.
The performance of Galea Soler takes further significance when one considers that he finished ahead of runners who come from much bigger countries than Malta with Croatian Frane Delonga placing fourth in 49.75 ahead of Greece’s Vladimir Andreasis (49.77), Czech Republic’s Ondrej Loupal (49.88), and France’s Jiky Tessier (50.34).
Maltese Olympic Committee Director of Sport Charlene Attard heaped praise on Galea Soler’s achievement. “A new page in Maltese Sports History was written today,” Attard wrote. “First medal ever at the European Youth Olympic Festival. Well done to Matthew Galea Soler, you wrote history. What a talent.”
Maria Vella-Galea, the MOC Director of Media and Chef de mission for these Games, said: “Such a proud moment for Malta. Thrilled to be here in Slovakia to see sporting history being made! Bravo Matthew”.
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