Triathlon grows in Malta
Despite terrible roads and traffic, and an island just 45km long, Malta’s triathlon future is looking bright
The President of the Maltese Triathlon Federation, Cyprian Dalli, leads one of the smallest Federations in Europe but he is determined to build a better future for the sport in his country.
The size of the task facing the Maltese Triathlon Federation can be summarised by the breakthrough news of 2013 – that the Federation now has an office.
Dalli, who was elected to the role in December 2011, made a promise to find a working office and he said: “It wasn’t easy and it took almost 14 months of negotiations but now the Malta Triathlon Federation has its own office.”
Looking back on his first calendar year as President, Dalli said: “We have had a very positive year but it has been more of a challenge than I expected.”
Some of the challenges Dalli refers to include the island itself: “It’s not so much the facilities but Malta itself, the roads and traffic are terrible,” he said.
“Also, the nature of the island is only 36km top to bottom so a big cycle ride doesn’t get you anywhere you just go round and round.”
Nevertheless the President has overseen an increase in the number of Triathlon clubs in Malta from 1 to 5, and they now have over 130 registered members.
Dalli says the Federation is starting to attract athletes from other sports, particularly the three disciplines of Triathlon, and encouraging athletes to test themselves.
THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUTH
But the key to the Maltese future is youth. “We need to attract new blood,” says Dalli. “We are in contact with the Olympic committee and sports council to try and put triathlon forward on the curriculum. Younger athletes give us a better future.”
Their commitment to youth is highlighted by the launch of a new Youth Triathlon Academy, which will run for 11 weeks from July to September this year.
The academy will serve as an introductory programme designed to train children and teenagers in the fundamentals of Triathlon and prepare them for participation in triathlon events at a later stage.
The Federation are also looking to increase the number of races in their calendar and diversify the options to athletes, such as off-road cross triathlon and the hosting of the Maltese National Duathlon Championships in May.
All of these steps, no matter how small they may seem, represent real, tangible progress for Dalli and Triathlon in Malta, something that gives the President every right to be pleased with the progress.
He said: “We have to be realistic about our standards, our capabilities and our limitations – but we are improving and developing all the time.
“Short term we want to continue to increase participation, increase our race calendar and begin to compete in International races (the first two Maltese triathletes competed in Eilat in 2012). But the longer term goal is to have triathlon included on the National Curriculum and impress the Olympic Committee by achieving a place at the Commonwealth Games 2014.”
MALTA TRIATHLON FEDERATION
President: Cyprian Dalli, www.triathlonmalta.org
For more information on the Maltese National Duathlon Championships, click here
If you are interested in coaching at the Maltese Youth Academy, or for more information on the Federation, contact email@example.com