I Want To Win More Medals For My Country


“It was a great year.”

Often in sport you come across people who only see the empty half of the glass; who keep thinking about the one negative result rather than the many positive ones.  It is refreshing, therefore, to come across the effusive positivity of Rebecca Sare’.

“It was a very long season but a special one indeed,” she repeats as she looks back on what she managed to achieve during 2015.

The main target of the year for Malta’s leading triple jumper was inevitably the Games for the Small States of Europe.  “Two years ago I won a silver medal, so I must admit that the pressure was a constant during my preparation.”

“I wanted to defend the medal and come back home with another medal.  At the same time, I was following the progress of the Icelandic and Cypriots athletes so I knew that I was going to face tougher competition this time round.”
This knowledge armed her with the realisation that she needed to work even harder.  “I started the season with two competitions abroad.  It was still early in the season however my coach and myself decided to start competing abroad early, in order to gain more experience for the bigger games.”

“The main preparation was focused on the triple jump.   We incorporated a number of new technical jump drills during the sessions, together with a strict diet to keep my weight to a minimum.”

The man who helped her during her preparation – Jivko Jetchev – is also the man who had introduced her to athletics in the first place.

“He used to do school visits to promote athletics and I was chosen by him during one such visit when I was still in primary school”

“I am positive that I would not have been able to achieve what I achieved this season without the constant support of my coach and team-mates who constantly help me to push through those hard sessions,” she says as she thanks her family, boyfriend, her employers at Ixaris, the MAAA, the MOC and KMS for the support they provided during the season that helped fuel her ambition.

That ambition translated into a very clear goal from the GSSE “I wanted a medal!”

“On the initial start list I was in the 4th position with the first two having personal bests of over 13 metres, a level which was never experienced before in the history of women triple jump during GSSE.”

“So I must admit the pressure there was bigger than in 2013 edition.”

Not that she unused to handling pressure.  “Whenever I'm set for a big competition, mentally I want to feel fully prepared so I tell myself that it's "now my time" to shine and enjoy each and every second of the competition.”

“Mental preparation is just visualisation of my best triple jump, and flying like a butterfly from one phase to another. I also like to picture mentally the people who mean the most to me, with the thought of dedicating my full energy and produce the best ever jump for them.”

Through such techniques – as well as her physical preparation - she managed to win bronze, a result that was already confirmed before she went in for her final jump.  “I knew that the distance of the first two athletes wasn't so far away from my personal best effort.  I wanted to challenge the cold weather and use my last drop of energy and adrenaline rush for the last attempt. I did produce my best jump of that competition on my last attempt with a leap of 11.96m, but sadly enough it wasn't enough to claim the silver medal.”

“Nevertheless, I was still proud with a bronze medal as it was surely a tougher competition than 2013, and the fact that I managed to reach a podium position and see the Maltese flag flying high was a special moment.”

Her finest jump of the season came earlier in March when she hit the 12.23m mark.  However, there was the feeling that she could better during the European Games in Azerbaijan.  “In Baku, I felt I was ready to produce my best ever jump,” she agrees.  “Baku offered the right surroundings for me - 14 athletes and a superb Olympic Stadium - the two right ingredients to increase my adrenaline rush. “

“On my last attempt I managed the longest jump for that day but still had to make do with a 12.13m jump.  Initially I was sad that I didn't manage to improve my national record which stands at 12.26m, but that's athletics.”

By her own admission, that national record is “always on my mind.  I'm a very goal oriented person and my goal is always to improve my national record.”

Indeed, she did manage to beat it later on during the year only for her effort to be nullified by a tail wind that was just too strong.  Rather than dwell on that, however, Rebecca choses to look forward

“My ambition is to be the first Maltese athlete to clear thirteen metres in the triple jump and will keep pushing myself to reach this ultimate goal.  I cannot wait to experience more high level competitions abroad and win more GSSE medals for our country.”

With no GSSE set for this year, Sare’s ambitions are a bit more limited.  “If I don't have any major competition, I admit, it's a bit hard to motivate myself to keep training hard during that season. However, to make up for this challenge, during non-GSSE seasons I try to find other international competitions to gain more experience in competing abroad. After all, my preparation for the season afterwards (GSSE year) must continue in full swing.”

To an extent, this presents her with an opportunity to live a ‘normal’ life.

“I have other dreams, such as travelling around the world.”

“However for the time being I have postponed those dreams for later. The main reason behind this decision is that I feel that I'm finally reaching the peak of my athletics career and it would be a pity to leave all this behind after so many years of training to try reach this form.”

“So as long as I'm healthy and injury-free I will continue, and once I fulfil my athletics dreams I will be ready to live the other dreams.”

In the meantime she is revelling under the pressure of being one of Malta’s more senior athletes.  “I like pressure, and I always perform better under pressure; the few times I didn't perform well under pressure was because I wouldn't have been fully focused.”

“Whenever I compete at GSSE, I know that my main responsibility is to perform at my best to be able to win a medal for Malta, the nicer the colour, the better. To handle this pressure, I try my best to keep myself focused and enjoy every moment of the competition and atmosphere.”

“If I am the one putting pressure on myself I won't perform, but if I keep in mind what other people are expecting of me and manage to keep focused , I tend to perform very well.”

And these days plenty of people expect big things from her, not least those younger athletes who look up to her.

“During my nursery days, I remember I had watched Rebecca Camilleri jumping at FISEC Games which were held in Malta and she had inspired me! I wanted to win medals for Malta just like what she had done in that competition.”

“So I hope, that the same way I got inspired, I may inspire other younger athletes to take up athletics seriously.  We have a lot of talent on this little island, and I may also see a number of potential athletes among our cadets and youths, and it's the responsibility of us, the senior athletes, to motivate them to keep on training.”

“After all, once I quit athletics, Malta will need other triple-jumpers to perform well at GSSE level and win medals, and hopefully improve my own triple-jump national record; ultimately records are set to be broken.”

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An abridged version of this article originally appeared on the Times of Malta. Photo at top of page courtesy of Wally Galea.  


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