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GSSE 2023 Day 3: Double table tennis success as Malta set new gold record

Team Malta wins historic 12th gold in men’s table tennis

After all the joy and elation emerging from a golden day for Team Malta at the 2023 Games of the Small States of Europe, Team Malta will be bidding for more medals on the third day of competition.

Stay with us to follow our athletes’ quest in our daily commentary from our sports team…

9pm Final result of the day as we end on a positive note! The men’s basketball team made amendments to their opening defeat after beating Montenegro 78-66 in their second group phase game.

That’s all from us for today! Make sure to tune in to our website tomorrow as we have a jam-packed day which include more finals from athletics and swimming.

8.40pm Here are the table tennis players who claimed both gold medals for Team Malta this evening…

Video: Chris Sant Fournier


Video: Chris Sant Fournier

8.22pm GOLD MEDAL ALERT! Absolutely nerve-wrecking but Prokopcov made it! Nullifying the match point on 10-8 to go on and win four consecutive point to win 12-10!

In the process, Malta have set a new record of 12 golds in a single GSSE competition. What a day, what a day.

8.15pm Storming start in the decisive set for Prokopcov as he went 5-2 ahead. Still a long way to go though!

8.10pm The tie Malta vs Luxembourg in the table tennis men’s event goes down to the wire as Glod won the fourth set to draw this match 2-2.

8.03pm Now all the attention turns to the men’s event… Prokopcov struck a psychological blow by winning 11-5 the second set to overturn the tie. We are now one set away from a historic double. “Let Go Malta, Let Go!” is the shout of the Maltese supporters.


Video: Chris Sant Fournier

7.55pm It is not yet over in the table tennis’ men event as Prokopcov has no intention to let it slip from his hands, halting Luxembourg’s momentum by winning 11-8 the second set.

7.54pm Remember the stat we told you about earlier today? Well, that comes in handy now as Malta has now equalled the all-time record of gold wins with 11 following the success in the women’s table tennis.

The 11 gold medals were won two decades ago, in the last edition hosted on home soil.

7.51pm GOLD ALERT! Malta won a historic gold medal in the women’s table tennis’ teams event when Camella Iacob annihilated her opponent 11-1 in the third set, to secure a 3-2 victory over a strong Monaco side.

7.50pm On the other side, Malta’s dream of landing a double gold in the teams’ event is slipping away as Dimitrij Prokopcov lost 11-6 against Glod in the first set.

7.49pm Iacob on the brink to land Malta’s first gold medal in table tennis. She is just a set shy after winning the first two 11-7, 11-8.

7.41pm In the men’s final, Wetzel failed to put the tie beyond Luxembourg’s reach when Mladenovic won the match 3-0 to force a decider. In the women’s final, Malta’s Iacob started on the right footing winning 11-7 the first set against Lagsir.

7.21pm The Maltese duo Stribova/Iacob took a decisive lead in the final against Monaco, winning the doubles rubber 3-0.

On the other side, Malta’s opponents in the men’s final, Mladenovic and Glod, hit back admirably to pull one back. At this point, Malta is leading in both finals with an identical 2-1 scoreline.

7.09pm We are back to table tennis, with Malta duo Stribova/Iacob fighting admirably against Yang/Lagsir, showing strong affinity and great teamwork. and winning the first two sets 11-8, 11-4.

This match could really tilt the balance in favour of Malta.

7.06pm Fourth place for the men in the 4×200 relay race as swimmers Nathan Mcleave, Matthew Galea, Thomas Woods and Dylan Cachia finished with a collective time of 7:52.00.

7.02pm Georgia Bohl’s first reaction after placing second in her 200m breaststroke final…

Georgia Bohl. Video: Kurt Aquilina

7.01pm In table tennis, another success in the doubles rubber for Malta men would secure us gold in straight sets but Mladenovic and Glod won the first set 16-14 for Luxembourg.

6.52pm SILVER for Malta in the women’s 4×200 relay race with a time of 8:41.41 set by swimmers Mya Azzopardi, Francesca Falzon Young, Sasha Gatt and Sarah Demicoli.

The women’s 4×200 relay team secured a silver medal for Malta. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

6.50pm Malta’s Camella Iacob found the going tough against Monaco’s No.1 Xiaoxin as she lost in three straight sets 11-8, 11-1 and 11-5.

Hence at the interval, Malta men’s team is leading 2-0 against Luxembourg while Malta women’s team are level on 1-1 with Monaco.

6.41pm Back to the table tennis event! In the second men’s match, Felix Wetzel again easily disposed of Eric Glod 3-0 with an identical score of 11-8 in all games.

6.29pm News from the basketball court as the Malta women’s team fell to a 59-42 defeat at the hands of a strong Montenegro side in their second 5×5 event appointment.

The men’s side will roll into action in approximately 30 minutes…

6.28pm The finals for the table tennis teams got underway this afternoon with Malta’s team eyeing a historic double.

Both men and women teams are playing simultaneously with the two tables facing each other.

A sizeable crowd has gathered at the University complex including the MOC top brass headed by President Julian Pace Bonello.

The men’s selection, under the guidance of former GSSE gold medallist Simon Gerada, is facing Luxembourg. They got off a flying start with Dimitrij Prokopcov beating Luka Mladenovic 3-0.

The men’s team are in action against Luxembourg in this evening’s final. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

On the other hand, Malta’s women’s selection, led by Viktoria Luchenkova, are facing Monaco.

Renata Stribova fought off her opponent Sannah Lagsir. After losing the first set (11-13), she recovered remarkably to first nullifying her opponent’s lead, then regaining the edge after being 9-5 down to win the second set 11-9. She won the third set 11-5 to earn the first point for Malta.

Malta women’s side is contending the gold with Monaco. Photo: Chris San Fournier

6.07pm SILVER in the 200m women’s breaststroke, as Georgia Bohl grabs second place with 2.30.89 after a wild finish while Maya Galea finished sixth at 2.42.79.

Georgia Bohl grabbed a silver medal in the 200m women’s breaststroke. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

5.58pm In the 100m women’s butterfly, Nirvana Micallef just misses out on another bronze after a fourth place finish at 1:03.98 while Michela Portelli finished sixth with 1:05.12.

5.44pm WHAT A WIN! The rugby 7’s women’s team eased past Luxembourg 26-0 as they now move to seven points.

5.25pm In the 400m men’s freestyle, Dylan Cachia finished with his second BRONZE medal for Malta after a strong swim against tough competition as the malta swimmer secured a 4:01.69 time.

Dylan Cachia won bronze in his 400m freestyle event. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

5.18pm BRONZE FOR MALTA in 400m women’s freestyle as Sasha Gatt finished third at 4:24.88 after a powerful swim which saw all three medal winners distance themselves from the rest of the swimmers!

For Gatt, this is her second bronze after placing third in Tuesday’s 800m freestyle race.

Sasha Gatt in action during her 400m freestyle race. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

5.12pm Malta men’s rugby 7’s team move to six points in the round robin ranking after crushing Cyprus 38-0 to remain in contention for a medal in this event.

5.10pm A similar finish in the men’s 100m backstroke event as Nathan Mcleave finished fifth at 58.88 while Thomas Wareing finished seventh at 59.83.

5.08pm We kick-off the evening session of swimming which means… it’s finals time! Here’s a first update…

Disappointment in the women’s 100m backstroke final as Victoria Balderacchi finishes fifth at 1:05.83, Sarah Demicoli ends the race in eighth place at 1:11.18.

4.39pm Matija Pecotic and Matthew Asciak are through to the final of the men’s doubles competition after defeating Luxembourg’s duo Calzi/Knaff 6-3, 6-4.

This means that Malta is now reassured of a medal in this competition as well, after both Francesca Curmi and Elaine Genovese also made it to the women’s final.

Both Curmi and Genovese are semi-finalists in the singles’ event with Pecotic the only Maltese in the men’s final four after Asciak’s exit earlier this morning.

4.36pm Check out Eleanor Bezzina’s first reaction after claiming Malta’s 10th gold earlier this afternoon…

Eleanor Bezzina. Video: Valhmor Camilleri

3.45pm Malta men’s concede another defeat in the basketball 3×3 event after falling 21-17 to Andorra in another group phase game.

3.29pm James Galea is eliminated from contention for a men’s trap medal after a 30-hit finish. San Marino remain in the final with their two shooters.

2.59pm Meanwhile, another defeat for the women’s team in the basketball 3×3 event after losing 21-18 against Andorra.

2.55pm GOLD MEDAL ALERT! Eleanor Bezzina has retained her 10am air pistol title after a nerve-wrecking fight against Monaco’s Pierre-Forest Mageli, recording an average of 229.4 points against Mageli’s 226.7.

2.51pm First defeat for the women’s team in the rugby 7’s competition after losing 19-15 to Andorra.

2.37pm Mikaela Galea and Mariah Busuttil failed to clinch any medals for Malta in the women’s trap shooting, with Lena Bidoli of Luxembourg winning gold.

Meanwhile, the men’s trap final is set to begin as the shooters, one of whom is Malta’s James Galea, load up on ammunition before taking their spot

2.25pm Another Maltese player heads to the semi-finals of the tennis singles’ competition as Elaine Genovese defeated Luxembourg’s Eleonora Molinaro in two sets, 6-3 and 6-2.

This means that Malta is reassured of at least a bronze medal after Curmi secured a final berth earlier in the day.

2.05pm The Malta men’s rugby 7’s team failed to replicate their winning start after losing heavily 33-14 against Luxembourg in their second outing of the competition.

1.27pm Malta secure its first win in the 3×3 basketball event as the men’s team survived a late rally by Cyprus to win 21-18.

Malta beat Cyprus to clinch a historic win in the basketball 3×3 competition. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

1.08pm Eleanor Bezzina has progressed to the target shooting final, which will start at 2.30pm, after placing fourth.

12.54pm James Galea made it to the men’s trap shooting final after placing sixth, with Emanuel Bugeja missing out on a place in the this afternoon’s event just for a point as he placed seventh.

12.47pm Francesca Curmi eased past Cyprus’ Maria Constantinou 6-2, 6-0 to progress to the semi-finals of the tennis women’s singles event.

12.45pm A positive update about Matthew Asciak’s condition after retiring from his quarter-final of the singles’ competition as the experienced tennis player is expected to pair up with Matija Pecotic in this afternoon’s doubles matchup against Calzi/Knaff of Luxembourg.

12.36pm Two qualifications at once for a couple of Maltese athletes.

As expected, Matija Pecotic is through to the semi-finals in the tennis singles’ competition with a commanding 6-2, 6-2 victory over Luxembourg’s Raphael Calzi.

Meanwhile, Mariah Busuttil won a decisive shoot-off against Martina Tonini of San Marino to advance to the women’s trap final where she will join fellow Maltese Mikaela Galea.

The final is pencilled for 2pm.

12.29pm Matthew Asciak was in action earlier today against Lucas Catarina of Monaco in the tennis men’s singles competition.

Matthew Asciak. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Meanwhile, Matija Pecotic is on the brink of advancing to the semi-finals of the same event as he is in the lead against Luxembourg’s Raphael Calzi.

At the same time, Francesca Curmi has launched her women’s singles competition against Maria Constantinou of Cyprus.

12.13pm Malta men secured top spot in their table tennis team’s competition after dispatching of Luxembourg 3-0 (3-1, 3-2, 3-2).

12.02pm Cruising to the goal line, cruising to victory. A 31-0 win hands Malta a winning debut in the women’s rugby 7’s event.

Malta’s Jacqueline Richard (left) with a brilliant performance against Montenegro. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

12.01pm In an hour’s time, the 3×3 men’s team returns in action as they host Cyprus in their second group game.

12.00pm As we await further updates from across the sports venues, here’s a statistic to keep in mind throughout these games.

Malta’s 24 medals won on Tuesday means that the hosts are 17 medals away from levelling the 2003 edition when they won an all-time 41.

11 of the 41 medals won were gold, with Malta just a couple of first place finishes away from matching that one too.

11.52am What about this. MALTA 31-0 MONTENEGRO! The Rugby 7’s women’s team off to a flying start in this competition at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

11.51am A second straight defeat for the Malta women’s team in the basketball 3×3 event with Luxembourg claiming the spoils with a commanding 21-8 victory.

11.38am In the 200m women’s breastroke, Georgia Bohl finished second after 2:33.81 as Mya Galea registered a 2:42.88 finish to qualify third.

11.37am In the first 100m men’s butterfly heat, Simon Mallia finished fifth after 58.24 as Nathan Mcleave missed out after finishing sixth with 27.06 in the second heat. 

11.36am In the 400m freestyle, Sasha Gatt made it to the next round of the women’s event with a 4:31.25 finish in second place. In the men’s event Dylan Cachia progressed with another second place finish after 4:06.35.

11.35am Day three of these games see more Maltese swimmers in action with more events at the National Pool.

In the 100m backstroke, Victoria Balderacchi and Sarah Demicoli both qualified from the women’s first heat with 1:07.18 and 1:11.32 respectively to make the final as the third and fourth swimmer.

In the men, Nathan Mcleave cruised into the final with a first place finish at 58.16. Thomas Wareing will join him in the next round after qualifying fourth at 59.52.

11.25am Another defeat in the basketball 3×3 event with the Malta men’s team losing 21-9 against Luxembourg in their group opener.

11.16am Matthew Asciak exits the men’s singles competition in tennis after retiring from his quarter-final tie against Lucas Catarina.

Monaco’s Catarina, ranked 449 in the ATP list, was in the driving seat to progress to the semis after winning 6-2 in the first set and leading 3-1 in the second, before the Maltese player forfeited the game.

Matija Pecotic of Malta is expected to feature in his quarter-final matchup against Raphael Calzi of Luxembourg in the coming minutes.

10.59am Another competition makes its introduction in the Games of the Small States of Europe in the Basketball 3×3 competition.

The Maltese women’s side was the first local side to enter the action, losing 15-14 in their opening game against Cyprus.

10.58am Back to today’s action! The Rugby 7’s competition made its debut in these games with the group phase games set to be played at the Tony Bezzina Stadium, today.

The Maltese side, led by Damien Neill, launched its campaign with a 19-10 victory over Andorra.

A super debut for the Malta men’s team in the Rugby 7’s competition. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

10.56am Yesterday, judo handed Malta its first medals of the 2023 Games of the Small States of Europe as Katryna Esposito struck gold in the -48kg category while a battling James Zahra secured silver in the -60kg class.

Malta’s number of medals on the first day doubled in the afternoon session when Isaac Bezzina and Valerian Ogbaidze added bronze medals in the -100kg and -90kg classes to ensure that local judo ends the day with one gold, one silver, and two bronze medals.

10.20am Another historic achievement was fulfilled by the men’s 4x100m swimming team after they won gold in extraordinary circumstances.

Matthew Galea, Kyle Micallef, Rudi Spiteri and Raoul Stafrace placed third but Luxembourg and Cyprus, who had initially taken the top two positions, were disqualified for an infringement in their transition from one swimmer to another, handing the gold medal to the Maltese.

This was Malta’s first gold medal in swimming after an absence of 18 years, with Angela Galea the only other Maltese swimmer to win gold when topping the 200m fly in Andorra in 2005.

10.10am In squash, Malta secured gold in the women’s singles final after a family duel that saw Colette Sultana defeating her younger sister Lijana while Kijan Sultana took bronze in the men’s event.

10.00am It was indeed a remarkable day two for Team Malta on Tuesday as the hosts won no less than nine medals on the day, the highest ever achieved in a single day of competition at the biennial Games.

Athletics took centre stage as our track and field athletes brought home six gold medals with Jordan Gusman and Lisa Marie Bezzina retaining their 10,000m titles, Jared Micallef and Gina McNamara storming to victory in the 800m race while Peppjina Dalli (pole vault) and Claire Azzopardi (long jump) added two more golds from the field events.

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