GSSE hosts dominate doubles competitions
Team Malta’s record run in the 2023 Games of the Small States of Europe continued yesterday as the hosts maintained the flow of medal success going to put themselves well in contention for an unprecedented feat at this biennial Games.
In fact, Team Malta won five gold medals on another historic day that kept them in second place in the medals standings with 25 gold, 18 silver, and 18 bronze for a staggering total of 61 medals.
But more importantly, the GSSE hosts are well in the running to finish top in the medal standings as at present they trail leaders Cyprus by just three silver medals as the latter ended the day on top with a record of 25 gold, 21 silver, and 21 bronze.
That surely sets up an intriguing final day of competition where Team Malta could win gold medals in sailing, squash, tennis, basketball, and athletics among others.
The squash selections look a good bet for further success today after yesterday they made it a day to remember with a medal clean sweep in the doubles competition where they not only won the gold medal in both categories but their dominance was further enhanced by the fact that both finals turned out to be an all-Malta contest which guaranteed Team Malta two other silver medals.
Colette and Lijana Sultana maintained their stranglehold in the GSSE squash competition and after contesting the singles final, they teamed up to land the doubles title.
The Sultana duo were untroubled en route to the final, sweeping aside all their opponents in quick succession.
Likewise, fellow teammates Johanna Rizzo and Amake Fischer had a similar route to the final match. In a decisive match, they defeated Luxembourg duo made of bronze medallist Sandra Denis and Michèle Meyer, a win which assured them of a top-two position.
The Sultana sisters then finished the day with a perfect record beating their compatriots 2-0. However, the Rizzo/Fischer tandem surprised the Sultana sisters with a very strong start going 2-0 up in the first set. Yet, the class of the Sultanas was too much to handle as they finished worthy winners – 11-2, 11-3.
“It was very nice to have an all-Malta final and I am so happy with our performance as a Maltese team,” 16-year-old Lijana Sultana said.
“We are very happy and proud to be here. We are very happy that they decided to include squash in this edition as our players are very strong and we are proud of the whole team,” Colette Sultana added.
In the men’s category, Bradley Hindle Deguara teamed up with Kirjan Sultana as national team coach Niall
Engerer joined forces with Daniel Zammit Lewis.
Both teams had a plain-sailing route to the final.
Hindle Deguara and Sultana defeated Liechtenstein led by gold medallist David Meier who teamed up with Patrick Maier. It was a very physical match with both sides complaining to the referee over an obstruction on numerous occasions.
The Maltese side kept the upper hand through the match, tiring their opponents with cross-court shots, winning the first set 11-9.
In the second set, with the score already 10-2, Liechtenstein annulled two match balls before Hindle Deguara applied the killer blow to set up a mouth-watering final with Engerer and Zammit Lewis.
Hindle Deguara and Sultana always enjoyed the upperhand in the final, but Engerer and Zammit Lewis kept within touching distance in an entertaining match that finished 11-9, 11-8 for the former team.
For the 42-year-old Bradley Hindle Deguara, this was a special moment at the end of the cycle.
The Australian-born professional player admitted that this was of great satisfaction to see “how the likes of Lijana (Sultana) grew up as fine human beings and even better great squash players”.
Hindle Deguara won two gold medals in the GSSE 2011 in Liechtenstein but this holds a special place in his heart.
“This programme started 13 years ago and for me to win a medal alongside these kids is a very special moment.
“This is something I will cherish forever. Malta is a country I love playing for,” he added.
On his part, Kijan Sultana said that he was honoured of playing alongside his coach and mentor.
“Squash is my life and being here to play on my home soil is just amazing to me,” he added.
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