National swimming coach Delon Dannhauser is hopeful Maltese swimmers will continue to receive hefty financial support from the authorities to ensure the sport takes further strides forward after a record-breaking participation at the Games of the Small States of Europe.
Maltese swimmers have been one of the many success stories of the 2023 Games of the Small States of Europe.
During this year’s Games, Team Malta have reached unprecedented heights with swimmers winning a record tally of 17 medals in the pool – four gold, six silver and seven bronze.
It was an astonishing achievement, particularly when one considers that prior to these Games, Malta had only one gold medal to its name which came 18 years ago when Angela Galea had won the 200 metres butterly at the Andorra Games in 2005.
So it was no surprise to see a beaming smile on the face of national coach Delon Dannhauser, who was one of the masterminds behind this incredible success from the Maltese swimmers.
The South African coach describes the performance of his athletes as unbelievable.
“It has been an incredible week for us,” Dannhauser told the Times of Malta.
“I feel really honoured to be part of Team Malta and to contribute to such special Games. We had a very very tough preparation. People don’t realise how difficult it was for us. The past 16 months have been very very hard to put everyone on track.
“There have been many highs and lows and for me it has been an unbelievable week.”
The National Pool have seen some unprecedented performances at these Games with Georgia Bohl, Kyle Micallef and the 4x100m relay team on top of the podium for the first time in the biennial Games.
Such performances have inevitably generated a very positive momentum and enthusiasm within the sport and Dannhauser said it was key now to make the most of this opportunity to take the next step forward.
“Our mindset is already set on what needs to be done to help swimming take the next step,” Dannhauser said.
“Next week I will be holding a number of brainstorming meetings as the mindset is already set on our future plans. A lot of work has already been done in the past four months, particularly with our work with junior swimmers.
“Looking at our team in these Games, there are guys who are slowly moving towards the latter part of their careers and we need to start thinking of bringing in more young swimmers and line up a plan to move forward.
“For these Games we had to fast-track many young swimmers and the same will happen to the juniors swimmers as it is crucial that we continue to keep pushing from here.”
There is no doubt that huge financial support provided by the government and the National Social and Development Fund has been a key ingredient behind Team Malta’s stellar performance in the Games but Dannhauser warned that if higher goals are to be achieved, this backing needs to become something continuous.
“Going forward it is very important for us to receive all the support that we can get,” Dannhauser said.
“I have to admit that I was very fortunate to have been supported by the Aquatic Sports Association who gave me whatever I asked to get for these guys.
“Along with the Maltese Olympic Committee and SportMalta there has been a collaboration which included months of planning and I am very thankful for that.
“What you saw at the National Pool this week has been months of planning in terms of team work and going forward it’s not going to be any different.
“We need funding and that is for sure. If we want to get better and have swimmers to may be one day make the semi-finals or final at the Olympics this heavy funding needs to be on a continuous basis and hopefully that is what is going to happen.
“With these results it’s going to put Maltese swimming on a high for a while, young swimmers will have a lot to look up to and these will be crucial factors that will push our sport forward and my understanding is that heavy funding will continue.”
Coming towards the end to our talk, Dannhauser was keen to give a pat on the back to each and every swimmer in the team for their great commitment and effort towards this historical result.
“It has been a rollercoaster ride,” he said. “There were some good times and bad times but my swimmers sacrificed themselves every day. They have given me everything that I asked from them so from my side it has been an unbelievable meeting and ‘Forza Malta’.”
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