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Games of the Small States of Europe

GSSE 2023 Day 5: First tennis gold in 30 years, triumphs in squash and swimming

Malta has 25 gold medals in these Games

Team Malta is ready for Day 5 of the 2023 Games of the Small States of Europe with the host country bidding to add more gold medals to its already historical tally.

Stay with us to follow all the latest news from all the sports being held on Friday.

22.08 And with that, we bring today’s live blog to a close. Thank you for joining us today. See you tomorrow!

22.00 FINAL! Malta’s men make it to the basketball final after beating Montenegro 84-80 in a tense fixture which saw Malta take the win in a do-or-die fourth quarter. Malta will now face Luxembourg in tomorrow’s final (tip-off: 16.45)

Malta’s men’s basketball team battles Montenegro at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion. Photo: Kurt Aquilina

19.53 Halftime at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion as Montenegro lead 46-44 against Malta. A tit-for-tat encounter so far with Tevin Falzon putting up 19 points in just the first quarter for Malta. A tense second half is surely to follow after the break with both teams vying for a spot in the gold medal game tomorrow.

19.21 The final event of the day is basketball where the men’s team is currently in action against Montenegro, with a place in the final at stake.

We will bring you more updates about this.

19.19 We have an update about Thomas Wareing who rather than progressing to the heats of the 400m individual medley, actually won silver!

There were two races but rather than two separate heats, the best three timings completed the podium with the Maltese swimmer placing in second place.

18.37 Thomas Wareing progressed to the 400m individual medley final with the second-best time from the two heats.


Bradley Hindle Deguara (second from right) and Kijan Sultana (first from right) won Malta’s gold. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

19.06 Dylan Cachia clinched bronze for Malta as he finished third in the 1500m freestyle race.

18.53 GOLD ALERT! Bradley Hindle Deguara and Kijan Sultana completed a double victory in the doubles competition in squash after beating compatriots Niall Engerer and Daniel Zammit Lewis 2-0 with an identical score of 11-9.

This victory lifts Malta to 25 gold medals in these Games.

The men’s Maltese teams in action during their final. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

18.50 Swimmer Sasha Gatt has added a silver medal to Malta’s tally after placing second in the 1500m freestyle race.

Sasha Gatt in action during her 1500m race. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

18.13 GOLD MEDAL IN SQUASH! Colette and Lijana Sultana landed gold when they won the all-Malta ‘final’ against Johanna Rizzo and Amake Fischer.

Colette and Lijana Sultana clinched gold for Malta in the squash women’s double event. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The latter surprised the favourites with a solid start to go 2-0 up but the Sultanas recovered in a strong way to conclude the first set 11-2.

There was no story to tell in the second set when Colette and Lijana Sultana concluded the match with an 11-4 victory.

Malta has now racked up 24 gold medals in this edition and a 25th will follow soon with an all-Maltese final in the men’s event.

18.09 Back to swimming action, Victoria Balderacchi and Mya Azzopardi did not finish in medal positions in their 400m medley.

18.04 In the women’s table tennis singles, Malta is assured of at least a bronze medal as both Renata Strbickova and Camella Iacob advanced to the semi-finals.

Strbickova defeated Iceland’s Tasic in three sets while Iacob won with the same scoreline against Simona Perovic of Montenegro.

17.49 Mixed results in table tennis, as Felix Wetzel progressed to the semi-finals of the singles tournament while Dimitrij Prokopcov exited in the quarter-finals.

Wetzel defeated San Marino’s Lorenzo Ragni 3-0.

On the other hand, Propkopcov lost a nerve-wrecking battle against Montenegro’s Filip Radovic, 3-2.

17.18 Rudi Spiteri finished in seventh place in his 50m butterfly final with a time of 25.18.

17.15 Michela Portelli placed seventh in her 50m women’s butterfly final, completing the race in 28.90.

17.12 Michael Stafrace finished eighth in the 50m breastsroke with a time of 29.78 seconds.

17.09 GOLD ALERT! Georgia Bohl finished first in the 50m breaststroke final in 32:04 as Malta picks up the 23rd gold medal – 4 away from a 100th GSSE gold.

Amy Micallef finished seventh in the same race.

17.07 We head to the National Pool where there are the swimming finals…

Victoria Balderacchi placed seventh in the 50m backstroke final in 31:53.50.

Meanwhile, Nathan McCleave and Matthew Galea missed out on a medal in the 50m backstroke with the former coming so close as he finished fourth.

16.41 MEDAL ALERT IN SAILING! News coming out of St Paul’s Bay is indicating that the last day of Optimist and ILCA 4 racing has been disrupted and will face a premature finish due to lack of wind.

All races were initially postponed to a later time but numerous warnings forced the two races to end. 

This means Malta is now confirmed to be the winner of gold, silver, and bronze in both girls and boys of the Optimist class.

In the ILCA 4 category, Malta is guaranteed silver and bronze in the men’s event and silver in the women’s.

In the ILCA 6 and ILCA 7 events, racing has, however, started with Dimitri Vertsonis in contention for bronze in the ILCA 6 men, Lacey Aquilina and Michela Mifsud fighting for silver and bronze respectively in the women.

Alex Denisiuc started the ILCA 7 race with a chance for bronze.

16.40 Two gold medals are on the way for Malta in the squash double as it is no longer of a question of if but of who will win them.

Colette and Lijana Sultana confirmed their dominance with an easy win over Monaco duo Camilla Zerbo and Natalia Berrin,  and then beat the Luxembourg couple Donven and Dincer.

Although it is a round-robin tournament, Johanna Rizzo and Amke Fischer defeated Sandra Denis, who won bronze in the singles and Michèle Meyer, to assure themselves of the top-two position.

16.17 Meanwhile, both Maltese shooters are eliminated from the 10m air pistol final.

William Vella was eliminated first, finishing eighth with 110.2 before Gianluca Azzopardi Spiteri – placed fifth – exited the competition with 174.5.


Bradley Hindle and Kijan Sultana booked a place in the final in the squash men’s double with a 2-0 victory over Liechtenstein. The Maltese duo beat the Maier brothers 11-9, 11-5.

The Maltese side kept the upper hand through the match, tiring their opponents with cross-court shots. 

In the second set, David and Patrick Maier, visibly tired could not keep up with the tempo dictated by the Maltese duo. On 10-2, Liechtenstein annulled two match ball before Hindle closed off the match for Malta.

They will face fellow Maltese duo Niall Engerer and Daniel Zammit Lewis in this evening’s final.

15.26 The other shooting event in programme this morning was the qualifiers of the 10m Air Rifle that were held at the Kirkop Sports Complex. Malta was represented by two shooters, William Vella and Gianluca Spiteri Azzopardi.

Both Maltese shooters made it through to this afternoon’s final as Vella placed fourth on 593.1 while Azzopardi Spiteri was just behind him on 592.9. 

Montenegro’s Milos Bozovic topped the standings with 620.2.

14.50 The Squash doubles tournament is being played at the Cottonera Sports Complex and Daniel Zammit Leis and Niall Engerer are currently one set ahead in their semi-final against Radley and Samimi.

14.35 In shooting, Clive Farrugia is still well placed in the men’s skeet as he is currently second in the standings after hitting 71 from 75 clays. The Maltese shooter is just two behind Cypriot Nicolas Vasiliou who leads the way on 73 while his compatriot Sotiris Antoniou is third on 70.

Marcello Attard is ffith on 66.

14.24 Malta women’s basketball missed out on a spot in the gold medal game after a crunch time 75-69 defeat to Luxembourg despite a strong performance at the Ta’ Qali Pavilion. Malta pushed back to take over the lead temporarily after a half-time deficit but Luxembourg held on to retake the lead and win the game.

Jethro Zammit Randich sprints towards the try line to score against San Marino. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

13.27 Big win for the Rugby Sevens team, they crushed San Marino 40-0 to secure a silver medal… great stuff.

13.20 Pecotic’s win is Malta’s second gold medal in tennis today. Earlier today, Francesca Curmi and Elaine Genovese won gold in the doubles and here is their reaction at the end of the match.

Video: Gianluca Lia

13.11 In rugby sevens, Malta are crushing San Marino 26-0 with Zerin Galea adding two tries and another from Rob Holloway…. a silver medal looks sealed.

13.07 Matija Pecotic has done a strong serve on match point has him set up to finish off his opponent and seal a 6-1 6-2 victory to hand Malta its first ever gold medal in men’s singles.

Matija Pecotic wins the men’s singles final.


13.01 Rugby Sevens Men are in action now against San Marino and the team has taken less than a minute to score the first try through Zerin Galea, and converted by Chris Dudman – 7-0.

12.56 Pecotic holds and is now 4-2 ahead. Only two games away.

12.53 Pecotic breaks… Matija Pecotic is closing in on gold as he has broken his opponent in the fifth game of the second set and is now 3-2 up.

12.50 At Ta’ Qali, the women’s basketball semi-final is underway and Malta and Luxembourg are tied at 59-all with just over five minutes remaining to the interval.

12.44 The men’s tennis final is on serve in the second serve as Catarina leads 2-1 but Pecotic will serve in the fourth game.

Clive Farrugia is leading the way with two other shooters in the skeet event. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

12.36 The skeet shooting competition got under way this morning at the Ta’ Kandja Ranges. Malta has two shooters in the competition, namely Clive Farrugia and Marlon Attard.

After the first round of the competition, Farrugia is currently sharing top spot with two other shooters after hitting 24 clays from 25. Marlon Attard is fifth on 21 clays.

12.27 Mattija Pecotic has won the first set 6-1 and is on course for victory. A win for Pecotic would be an historical achievement for the Malta Tennis Federation as never in the Games has Malta won singles gold.

12.20 Pecotic on course for gold…. Mattija Pecotic has made a strong start in his singles final against Lucas Catarina, of Monaco. The Maltese player has already broken his opponent twice and is leading 5-1. Malta is on course for a golden double in tennis on Friday.

12.10 After this absorbing morning we turn our sights on the tennis again as Mattia Pecotic is in action in the men’s singles final.

11.55 Heartbreak for Malta as the Andorrans somehow hold on as with second remaining they win the ball back through an infraction of the Maltese girls and they kick the ball out of play to bring the match to an end. Still a valiant effort from the Malta girls.


MALTA SCORE... Penelope Severtin scores a crucial try for Malta, which is converted to put them just two points adrift 21-19 with less than a minute to go.

11.40 Andorra in charge… The Andorrans score a third try, which they convert to take a 21-12 lead. Malta must respond.

11.37 Androra strike at the death of the first half to go 14-12 ahead.

11.35 It’s end-to end stuff here as Andorra hit back to score their first try of the match to reduce the gap to 12-7.

11.33 TRY…. Malta score a second try as captain Maria Spiteri sprints through the Andorran defence to make it 12-0.

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

11.30 First blood Malta…. Jackie Richard produces a full pitch-storming run to score the game’s opening try which is converted – Malta lead 7-0.

11.28 Another gold medal up for grabs in Rugby 7s as the women’s team face Andorra in the gold medal match and starts now. Come on Malta girls

11.23 This is Malta’s 21st gold medal at the 2023 GSSE and brings up half a century of medals in these Games. Team Malta is six medals short of winning its 100th medal since the Games inception in 1985.

Watch the moment Francesca Curmi and Elaine Genovese won the gold medal in the women’s doubles

11.22 Curmi and Genovese bring up first match point at 5-3 and the Luxembourg pair hit their return long to hand the gold medal to the Maltese duo. Curmi and Genovese jump onto each other in delight and the Marsa Sports Club is in raptures… another historical moment in these Games.


11.15 A quick note for our rugby men’s sevens team who this morning produced a blistering display against Monaco. Tries from Chris Dudman, twice, Brendan Dalton and Zarrin Galea sealed an impressive win.

It was a very impressive performance from the team who had three players yellow-carded during the match, two of which in a five-minute spell, leaving the team with a player less. But they still held on to secure a vital victory.

11.10 ONE GAME AWAY FOR CURMI AND GENOVESE… Francesca Curmi and Elaine Genovese are just one game away as they lead 5-2.

Francesca Curmi (left) and Elaine Genovese. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

BROKEN…. THE MALTESE PAIR HAVE STRUCK. Elaine Genovese and Francesca Curmi have delivered a crucial break in the sixth game of the first set to take a 4-2 lead.

Genovese and Curmi are one set ahead, after taking the opener 6-3, and will take gold if they win the second set.

11.00 It’s all level in the second set Curmi and Genovese are level with the Luxembourg pair 2-2.

10.55 First blood for Curmi, Genovese. Francesca Curmi and Elaine Genovese have won the opening set of the tennis doubles final 6-3. They are just one set away from winning gold.

The Men’s rugby sevens team. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

10.45 Great news coming from Rugby 7s as the men’s team has moved one step close to securing a medal.

This morning Damian Neill’s boys crushed Monaco 24-7 in what was an exhilarating performance from the Maltese players who simply tore apart the Monegasque team.

With this win, Malta seem to be one win away from securing the silver medal. They face San Marino at 1pm.

10.30am Francesca Curmi and Elaine Genovese are in action in the women’s doubles final and the Maltese pair are well on their way as they are currently leading 5-1 against Eleonora Molinaro u Maria Wackerie, of Luxembourg.

10.00 Good morning and welcome to another exciting day of GSSE 2023 action.

Team Malta has their eyes firmly set to win more medals in what promises to be another highly-emotional day.

At the moment, we have Francesca Curmi and Elaine Genovese who are bidding to win gold in the women’s doubles final at the Marsa Sports Club while our rugby sevens team is up against Monaco at the Hibs Stadium.

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