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2023 Local Sporting Achievements: Thornton, Gusman and Curmi star in excellent year for Maltese sport

Weightlifter Tenishia Thornton, long-distance runner Jordan Gusman and tennis player Francesca Curmi are some of the Maltese sportspersons who stood out in 2023 on the international scene. Valhmor Camilleri reviews several achievements in different disciplines during the past 12 months…


The Malta Weightlifting Association has enjoyed a stellar year in 2023 as the Maltese lifters won no less than 40 medals in international competitions.

Tenishia Thornton continued to underline her status as one of the country’s leading sports ambassadors after securing no less than eight medals in high-profile competitions.

In fact, Thornton showcased her exceptional talent by securing a gold medal in the junior 59kg category and a silver medal in the seniors class at the Commonwealth Championships that were held in Delhi, India.

In the junior category, Thornton outclassed the opposition to finish as a clear-cut winner with a total lift of 186kg – 19kg ahead of her nearest rival from India.

That performance also lifted her on the podium of the senior class as she finished in second place to bag her second medal in the tournament.

Rylee Borg had a very successful year in the international competition.

Rylee Borg and Kim Camilleri Lagana also won medals for Malta in this competition.

Borg recovered from a slow start to claim a silver medal in both the juniors and the senior competitions when amassing a total score of 241 kg.

On the other hand, Camilleri Lagana headed into these championships in high spirits, particularly after winning three bronze medals at the European Under 15 Championships that were held in Chisinau, Moldova.

Camilleri Lagana kept her positive momentum in Delhi when she returned home with a silver medal in the Youths category, followed by another silver in the Juniors class.

In the seniors category, Camilleri Lagana earned a bronze medal, solidifying her position as a formidable weightlifter in her division.

Thornton and Borg continued to impress in the Small Nations Championship.

Thornton was the stand-out performer when she secured a gold medal in both the junior and senior categories with an impressive tally of 258 points.

Borg delivered an outstanding display in the men’s class when claiming the title in the junior category with 323 points.

Borg then teamed up with Camilleri Lagana to take gold in the doubles category with an impressive haul of 543 points.

For Camilleri Lagana this was her second medal after taking silver in the juniors class.

Anton Micallef and Shaun Ciantar took bronze in the doubles category.

Thornton continued her outstanding year when taking gold and silver at the Malta International Open before finishing off with a remarkable seventh placing at the IWF Grand Prix, which was also an Olympic qualifier for the 2024 Paris Games.

Other impressive results were attained by Borg when taking gold and silver at the Malta International Open, a silver medal from the Malta team in the Mediterranean Cup, and gold medal success for Thornton and Borg at the Crystal Palace Open.

Away from the action, Jesmond Caruana, the Malta Weightlifting Association president, was elected as vice-president of the Mediterranean Federation and general secretary of the European Small States body.


In sailing, fifteen-year-old Katrina Micallef wrote history for Malta and the Royal Malta Yacht Club when she finished in third place at the U16 2023 ILCA 4 Youth World Championships, hosted by the Nautical Club of Volos & Argonauts in Greece.

Micallef, who recently moved up to the ILCA 4 Class, having obtained several years of racing experience in the Optimist Class, finished in 12th place overall, in a 150-strong fleet. 

Last June, Micallef also won the gold medal in the Games of the Small States of Europe, which took place in Malta.

Maltese sailor Richard Schultheis secured another impressive result in his career after winning a silver medal at the Junior U-23 World Championship that was held in Travemunder Woche in Germany last May.

Teaming up with Yoann Bertinn, the 18-year-old sailor produced another impressive performance in the prestigious championship when placing second in the 49er Class.

Richard Schultheis (left) and Yoann Bertinn won a silver medal at the European Championships.

This is by far the best-ever performance for an U-20 sailor at a U-23 49er World Championship and no doubt further underlines his undoubted potential as he looks to secure a place in the next Olympic Games to be held in Paris next year.

Antonia and Victoria Schultheis produced a remarkable result at the European Championships in Portugal.

The Schultheis siblings finished the qualifying series in the 49erFX after three days and went into the final series in second place in silver fleet. 

Unfortunately, due to a lack of wind only three more races could be sailed in the last three days, with the siblings securing first place in the silver fleet.


Athletics Malta enjoyed an impressive year even outside the Games of the Small States of Europe with some outstanding performances.

The national selection achieved their best-ever result at the European Team Championships when placing fifth overall, the highest-ever placing in this competition.

Jordan Gusman stood out when he won the 5,000 metres race with a strong finish. On the other hand, Janet Richard set a new national record in the 400m with a storming run to break the 53-second barrier and cross the finish line in 52.37.

Gusman produced arguably the individual performance of the year when he destroyed the marathon national record with a stunning run at the Chicago Marathon.

The Maltese runner completed the distance in a stunning time of two hours 13 minutes and 13 seconds to finish 19th overall from a field of 40,000 runners.

The national record in the full marathon is just the latest milestone in Gusman’s career who is the holder of the domestic best times in the 1,500m, mile, 3k (both outdoor and indoor), 5k (both track and road, and outdoor and indoor), 10k (both track and road) and half-marathon (1:03:41).

Jordan Gusman shattered the national record at the Chicago Marathon.

Jeremy Zammit set a new national record in the long jump event when he leaped to 7.84m at the Clemson Invite in South Carolina, representing his college, Auburn.

Thea Parnis Coleiro won two silver medals in the International School Sport Federation Games when took silver in the 100 metres and then placed second in the 200 metres.

Jared Micallef shattered the 800m record when clocking 1:46.50 in a meeting in Karlsruhe while Gina McNamara lowered the 1,500m mark with a time of 4:13.64 in Canada.


Clive Farrugia enjoyed a great year in international skeet shooting.

The GSSE gold medallist became the first Maltese skeet shooter to reach the final in a World Cup shoot in Larnaca, Cyprus.

Here, Farrugia hit 14 out of 20 targets to place eighth from 119 shooters.

His performances in the international scene earned him a place in the ISSF World Cup final that was held in November in Doha, Qatar.

Farrugia won a tense shoot-off to book his place into the final at the ISSF World Cup final but failed to make it past the first stage as he was the first shooter to be eliminated when hitting 16 targets from 20, and place sixth overall.

Fellow shooter Marlon Attard also created history when he struck gold for Gozo with a dominant performance in the skeet event at the Island Games.


Francesca Curmi has established herself as one of Malta’s leading sportswomen with her excellent performances in the WTA tour.

The Maltese tennis player has achieved some remarkable victories in the international tour this year that has propelled her among the top 300 players in the world before ending the year in an eye-catching 315th place.

During the past 12 months, Curmi managed to make the main draw at the Palermo tournament where she came agonisingly close to upset world no. 52 Cristina Bucsa before going down in three sets.

Francesca Curmi broke into the top 300 in the WTA rankings this year.

This year, Curmi won the ITF title in Spain when she beat home player Georgina Garcia-Perez.

The Maltese player did beat a top player in Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek at the Seville tournament in October.

She ended the year with a winning ratio of 59 per cent after notching 39 wins and 27 defeats during the past 12 months.

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