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Athletes seek early tonic at Winter National Championships

Malta’s athletics calendar reaches its first milestone of the season on Saturday with the Winter Championships providing athletes with an opportunity to impose their mark on the season and possibly qualify for the international events scheduled months ahead.

They will be also competing in the recently refurbished Matthew Micallef St John after its formal inauguration last week.

Some fast times are expected on the tartan track, with several exciting races scheduled on Saturday.

The 60m male race promises to be a scintillating high-speed encounter, with no less than seven athletes running below the 7.10s mark this season.

Among the women, on the same distance Carla Scicluna will measure herself against Claire Azzopardi in an exciting duel.

Thrilling battles are also expected on the 300m distance with Steve Camilleri, Graham Pellegrini and Krestien Micallef challenging each other among the men.

While Janet Richard is odds-on favourite to take top spot among the girls on this distance, Martha Spiteri and Kay Testa will continue their battle for a place on the GSSE 4x400m team.

On the 600m, Christian Chetcuti will test his fitness in first race of his season in a field of 11 athletes from different age categories.

The longest race will take athletes to the 3,000m distance, with seven athletes including Dillon Cassar who will try and secure a fast time on the track.

This race is expected bring about record-breaking times across all categories.

For field enthusiasts, the triple jump pit will likely provide most excitement, with both male and female events offering an interesting duel.

Ian Paul Grech and James Armani go head-to-ahead among the men, while Azzopardi and Rebecca Sare finally square off against each other after battling it out in London and Ancona earlier this year.

Azzopardi had taken the national record from Sare in the British capital, but the latter took just a week to claim it back in Italy with a 12.62m jump.

In the discus throw, Luke Farrugia and Bradley Mifsud will fight it out for the first major honour of the season.

Meanwhile, this week brought another stunning performance by a Maltese athlete abroad, this time by Charlotte Wingfield who made it through two rounds to the final at the Scottish Indoor Athletics Championships, where she finished in fourth place.

Wingfield’s 24.03s timing in the semi-final meant a new national indoor record on the 200m distance, a record which had stood for six years.

Three more athletes will be flying the Maltese flag abroad this weekend. Mireya Cassar (Pembroke AC) will begin her outdoor season throwing in Germany on Saturday, while Gabriel Farrugia (Evolve) and Joelle Cortis will be participating in the ‘MonacoRun’ a world athletics label event over the 5k distance. 

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