Eleonor Bezzina has established herself as one of Team Malta’s protagonists at the Games of the Small States of Europe as the talented target shooter has produced some stunning displays in recent editions.
After striking gold at the 2013 Games in Luxembourg, Bezzina went on to bounce back from the disappointment of missing out on a medal in Iceland 2015 by taking silver in San Marino two years later before returning to the top of the podium in Montenegro four years ago.
Bezzina is heading into the game with a clear mindset.
“Every competition has a beginning and an ending with its story and result,” said Bezzina when asked if she feels added pressure to defend her gold medal.
“Mentally I am not looking at it as I have to defend my gold medal but that I will compete and will give my best to secure a positive result.
“My training preparations never stopped but I started to focus more on these Games from October of last year when the 2024 Olympic qualifiers started. I held technical sessions at the Bidnija ranges, with long hours of successive shooting exercises.
“The mental preparation was more complex. In shooting, after you reach a certain technical level, the mental preparation takes more importance. With every shot, one embarks on an visualisation process.
“It’s inevitable that after some competitions, you experience difficult times but I used international events as a good opportunity to prepare myself to try and overcome those moments.”
Asked whether the fact that she will be competing at home will be an added pressure or added stimulus to perform, Bezzina said: “As an athlete, it’s a huge stimulus to achieve a great result in front of your fans and make them proud of you. But this inevitably produces added pressure as the expectations will be very high.”
Being one of the veterans in the Team Malta contingent inevitably makes Bezzina one of the leaders of the team and hopes that she can use her knowledge to help upcoming athletes.
“If with my experience I can help to other athletes, I can assure you that I am ready to share all my knowledge with others,” she said.
“I experienced the joy of winning a gold medal but also the disappointment of less positive results so I know well what it goes through the mind of an athlete in different circumstances.”
Team Malta athletes received a record amount of financial support but Bezzina warned that this assistance has to become something long-term not just on a one-off occasion.
“No doubt, this financial assistance has been of a huge assistance for me as I could train abroad with other national teams and compete in other competitions, particularly thanks to SportMalta’s flexischeme work,” Bezzina said.
“My dream would come through when the sport is given the importance it deserves and it receives a fixed financial assistance and not just a one-off. If we are going to see positive results on the international scene on a consistent basis, the investment has to be long-term.
“However, it’s important to point out, that financial assistance alone will not lead anywhere unless the athletes give their 100 per cent, with sacrifice, determination, and commitment.”
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