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GSSE 2023 Day 2: A record sixth gold medal for Malta in athletics

Dillon Cassar (left) and Jordan Gusman. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

First Gold medal in swimming since 2005

The 2023 Games of the Small States of Europe will enter a decisive phase on Tuesday when the first medals of the 19th edition will be won.

Team Malta has high hopes of securing several medals on this second day of the sports festival.

Stay with us at Times of Malta to remain up-to-date with everything that is happening around all venues…

9.30pm That’s all we have for you today for Day Two of the 2023 Games of the Small States of Europe. Be sure to follow us again tomorrow for more!

9pm A tough finish for the day as Malta’s men suffer a 75-50 defeat against Cyprus in their opening basketball game at the Ta’ Qali pavillion.

8pm Malta finish with another GOLD IN SWIMMING as the 4x100m team composed of Raoul Stafrace, Kyle Micallef, Matthew Galea and Rudi Spiteri touched home third but win after Luxembourg and Monaco were disqualified. This means Malta ends an 18-year wait with the first Gold medal in GSSE swimming since 2005.

7.30pm GOLD FOR LISA MARIE BEZZINA 10,000m Gold goes to Malta in both men and women in this year’s edition.

6.43pm SILVER MEDAL IN SWIMMING! Sasha Gatt placed second in the 800m freestyle with a time of 9:00.89.

6.38pm The Malta women’s basketball team registered a resounding 82-58 victory in their opening GSSE fixture against Cyprus.

Amber Melgoza leads the game with an impressive 32-point tally on her Malta debut.

6.06pm BRONZE MEDAL! In swimming, as Thomas Wareing finished third in the 200m backstroke with a time of 2:07.39.

6.21pm GOLD FOR JORDAN GUSMAN! He produced a dominant performance to win the 10,000m to match the GSSE record in 29:37.96, with Dillon Cassar completing the podium in third place after 30:37.83 as Malta wins two medals in this race.

Gusman clocked a time of 29:37.96 to register a meet record while Cassar finished in a time of 30:37.83.

Claire Azzopardi speaks to the Times of Malta after her Gold medal victory. Video: Gianluca Lia

6.05pm GOLD IN LONG JUMP! Claire Azzopardi triumphed in the long jump competition as she registered a jump of 6.14m!

6.01pm What has been a memorable day for Malta could become even historic as the hosts are now one gold medal away from breaking the record in athletics, following the four won so far.

5.59pm GOLD MEDAL IN THE POLE VAULT! Peppijna Dalli registers a 3.65m victory to top the pole vault competition. Sana Grillo placed third to add a bronze medal to Malta’s tally in these GSSE.

Sana Grillo (left) and Peppijna Dalli won the bronze and gold medal respectively in the pole vault. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli
The moment Colette Sultana won gold at GSSE’s Squash women’s singles. Video: Kurt Aquilina

5.40pm Colette Sultana takes gold in squash women’s singles after a final battle against sister Lijana.

5.37pm Bronze again in Judo as Isaac Bezzina beats Franck Vatan of Monaco with three chidos for an ippon.

5.32pm Another bronze in athletics, this time for Beppe Grillo who finished the 100m sprint in a personal best 10.66.

Sarah Demicoli. Photo: Jonathan Borg

5.27pm Another silver medal for Malta as Sarah Demicoli finishes second swimming’s 200m fly event.

5.25pm In the judo -90kg category, Valerian Ogbaidze wins Bronze after a walkover by Nicolas Grinda of Monaco in the third-place play-off. In the women’s -70kg category, however, Francesca Catania suffered defeat by ippon as Jessica Zannoni of San Marino took bronze in a match that lasted just over two minutes.

Jared Micallef. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

5.15pm Jared Micallef becomes another Malta gold medalist after winning the men’s 800m event with a time of 1.50.22. In the women’s event, Gina McNamara equalled this result with a Gold herself after 2.12.46, with Clare McNamara taking third place – 2.16.92.

5.05pm Disappointing news coming from the squash courts as the Bronze medal game in the men’s singles is over before the first serve after confirmation that Malta’s Niall Engerer cannot compete due to injury. However, this means that Kijan Sultana will take Bronze as Malta add another medal to the list.

4.15pm A personal best of 48.83 propelled Matthew Galea Soler into the 400m final where he will be competing together with Pellegrini later on.

4.06pm Graham Pellegrini has made his way into the 400m final after finishing second in his heat, with Matthew Galea Soler now set to be involved in the second and final heat.

3.50pm In the women’s races, Carla Scicluna has booked a final berth after finishing second in her heat with a season-best of 11.80.

Charlotte Wingfield, on her part, also made it to the final with the heats’ eighth-best time as both Maltese will be involved in today’s 100m final.

3.41pm Meanwhile, we hit the race track with the opening heats from the 100m.

Unfortunate news for Malta as Luke Bezzina was disqualified in the first heat following a false start.

Meanwhile, Beppe Grillo progressed to the final after clocking a second-place time of 10.58.

3.39pm MEDAL FOR MALTA! Mireya Cassar has won a bronze medal for Malta after placing third in the hammer throw final.

Antonella Chouhal, the other Maltese competitor in this final placed fourth.

Mireya Cassar in action for Malta during the hammer throw final. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

2.22pm WATCH: James Zahra has also won a medal for Malta after placing second in his judo competition. He spoke to Valhmor Camilleri to express his thoughts about his achievement.

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

2.14pm WATCH: Katryna Esposito was delighted to bring home Malta’s first gold medal in these games as she spoke to Valhmor Camilleri immediately after her win…

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

1.57pm The Malta men’s table tennis side replicated the women’s success as they started their group phase with a commanding 3-1 victory over Montenegro in the team’s competition.

Andorra and Luxembourg are Malta’s upcoming opponents in this competition.

1.30pm Meanwhile, positive news from table tennis as the Malta women’s players secured a 3-2 victory against Monaco in their opening group game of the teams’ competition.

They will face Montenegro in a later session.

1.20pm Matthew Asciak has followed fellow Maltese colleague Matija Pecotic into the quarter-finals of the singles’ competition in tennis with a stunning comeback against Marco De Rossi of San Marino.

Asciak lost the first set 6-2 and was heading towards an early exit as he was losing 4-2 in the second set.

However, the Maltese player rallied up and won seven straight games to clinch the second set with a 6-4 victory.

Asciak flexed his muscles in the third and final set with a 6-1 victory to progress in this competition.

12.36pm A SECOND MEDAL, THIS TIME GOLD! Katryna Esposito was up against Veronika Kalaitsidou, of Cyprus, with the gold medal at stake. Esposito was aggressive from the outset and went on to secure the victory.

Katryna Esposito (right) won gold for Malta in Judo. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

12.28pm FIRST MEDAL FOR MALTA! Judoka James Zahra takes silver in the -60kg category.

James Zahra secured his second win of the day when he beat Manuel Tischhauser, of Liechtenstein, by an Ippon to secure a silver medal in the -60kg class.

12.27pm Isaac Bezzina fought against Danilo Pantic, Montenegro in the -100kg category and after a hard-foght bout, it was the Montenegrin who progressed via an Ippon.

12.13pm Katryna Esposito secured her second of win in the -48kg category against Cypriot judoka Marina Kyprianou. Esposito produced an aggressive display to overcome here opponent by a submission manouvre and notch a win over Ippon. 

With this win, Esposito will move to a top-two placing and will fight for gold against Veronika Kalaitsidou later. 

11.59am Malta bows out of men’s singles squash competition after losses for both Kijan Sultana and Niall Engerer in the semifinals.

Both players finish with straight-set defeats: 11-8, 11-8 for Luca Wilhemi against Sultana and 11-5, 11-3 for David Meier against Engerer.

Both Malta players will face each other for Bronze later on in the day.

11.47am News from judo! Valerian Ogbaidze lost by Ippon against Cypriot Michael Aristos in -90kg category in a bout that needed a golden score after neither judoka had scored a point. In the end, Aristos beat the Maltese judoka via an Ippon.

On the other hand, Kris Samuel Bartolo was beaten by Monaco’s Enzo Tortora, via an Ippon.

11.28am Meanwhile, Matija Pecotic advanced to the next round of the men’s singles competition in tennis after dispatching of Andorra’s Damien Gelabert 6-0, 6-2 earlier today.

Matthew Asciak, Pecotic’s team mate in the doubles competition will follow up with a match against Marco De Rossi of San Marino.

11.19am Great news from squash! Malta will be assured of a one-two finish in women’s squash singles after a productive start to the day on Tuesday as both Colette and Lijana Sultana achieved early wins. 

Sisters Colette Sultana (left) and Lijana Sultana will contend the gold medal match in squash. Photo: Kurt Aquilina

Their brother, Kijan, is now in action against Liechtenstein’s Luca Wilhelmi as he vies for a place in the men’s singles final.

Read more in Kurt Aquilina’s report from the Marsa Sports Club.

Katryna Esposito on her way to victory against Kirsty Caruana. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

11pm Next up was Katryna Esposito in the -48kg category against fellow Maltese Kirsty Cauchi. Esposito imposes herself quickly in the fight and secures victory via an Ippon to ensure Team Malta has a second medal at these Games as she will surely go home with a bronze medal. For Esposito, this is her first-ever medal at a GSSE.

James Zahra on his way to victory against Sadek Khalaf in the -60kg category.

11am That turned out to be a big win for James Zahra as with only four judokas in his class he has assured himself of at least a bronze medal.

10.48am Next up is a Maltese derby in the -60kg category when James Zahra faces Sadek Khalaf. This is an important fight as a bronze medal was at stake. In fact, it is James Zahra who prevailed with an Ippon.

Francesca Catania (bottom) in action against Montenegrin Ivana Sunjevic

10.45am Francesca Catania was the first Maltese judoka in action when she competed Ivana Sunjevic, of Montenegro in the -70kg category. The young Maltese judo tried to put on a valiant fight but was beaten by the Montenegrin by Ippon.

10.30am Focus today will be on the various competition as the first medals will be won in five different disciplines namely athletics, swimming, table tennis, judo and squash.

Our first focus will be on the judo competitions when this morning Team Malta is vying for two medals in the individual competition. Katryna Esposito, bronze medallist in last year’s Mediterranean Games, will be vying for gold in the -48kg category which also features Kirsty Cauchi.

10.15am Good morning to all. It has been an emotional Day One of the 2023 GSSE Games on Monday when over 1,000 athletes and officials from the nine participating countries took part in a spectacular opening ceremony at the Floriana Granaries.

Monday’s ceremony provided a lot of emotions to the huge crowd present in Floriana. As expected Team Malta received a huge standing ovation by the crowd present as flag bearers Elaine Genovese and Matthew Galea Soler led the home contingent during the athletes’ march past.

Tennis legends Carol Cassar Torregiani (left) and Helen Asciak hold the Olympic flame during Monday’s ceremony. Photo; Chris Sant Fournier

One of the highlights of the night was the lighting up of the Olympic flame with several GSSE medallists for Malta taking part in the torch relay, including ex-sailor Mario Aquilina, shooter William Chetcuti, tenpin bowler Sue Abela who passed the torch to former tennis players Helen Asciak and Carol Cassar Torregiani, gold medallists in the Malta GSSE in 1993 who went on to lit up the flame amid an ecstatic crowd.

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