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Time Management Key For Sammut

Paul Grech Tuesday, June 4, 2013 , , ,
Whenever the Games for the Small States of Europe come round, it is the norm to see a number of records fall at the Marsa track as athletes push themselves to achieve the minimum targets set for them to achieve qualification.  So it is proving to be this year with the opening weeks of the season delivering a host of new national bests.

Even so, the performances of Laura Sammut have been particularly eye-catching.  At 15 years of age the St Patrick’s Athletic Club athlete first broke her personal best in the 1500m in the Challenge 1 competition by covering the distance in 4min 59sec and then, in the Challenge 2 she broke the 11 minute barrier in the 3,000m mixed gender race by covering the distance in a fantastic time of 10min 44sec breaking her personal best by 17sec and setting a national record in the mixed gender not only for her category but for juniors, intermediate and youths.

“To be honest with you I was not expecting such a result,” she admitted candidly afterwards.  “On the day it was quite windy and I normally do not manage to improve my personal best in such a circumstance.”

However, that did not diminish from the enjoyment.  “It felt great to break the national record in the mixed gender 3km event.  I said to myself that finally my training and sacrifices paid off. I would like to take the opportunity to thank my coach Rose Tabone and Ibrahim Hussen our long distance athlete and refugee currently at Hal-Far with whom I train on a frequent basis.”

On top of these records, during last weekend’s Malta International Meeting Laura broke the national record in the 1500m distance with a time of 04min 50sec, an improvement of six seconds on the previous best.

Whilst Laura is a relative newcomer to the local athletics scene, she has been running for quite some time.  “I was encouraged to take up athletics by my dad. I spent a number of years in the UK and my first event was a 400m race in Burton Upon Trent where I performed well. I used to beat a number of British girls whenever I competed.”

Unsurprisingly, she names her favourite event as being the “the 3km race.”

“I enjoy running the 1500m event however I prefer longer distances. I like pacing my race and the longer the race the better I can manage to pace my race.”

Above all, she likes winning. “I enjoy winning all track events that I participate in and try hard to beat my last personal best. In general sport helps me make new friends and meet other athletes both locally and overseas. I feel that athletics builds me from a character and physical perspective. One has to be self-disciplined to perform in both sports and schooling.”

As with most other fifteen year olds, free time is at something of a premium as the demands to focus on their studies become ever more onerous.  Yet Laura has got it all figured out.  “Time management is the secret to success. If you manage your time well, you can cope with both, as I actually do myself. I love athletics and would feel bad if I miss a training session.”

In the meantime, she’s setting herself some pretty ambitious targets.  “This year is my last year participating in the youth category and my prime objective is to do well in the upcoming COJI Games to be held in Ajaccio, Corsica.”

“My intention is to participate in both the 1500m and the 3000m race however one needs to evaluate well the race programme before deciding. Another ambition I have is the breaking of the 1.5km and the 3km youth girls national records. My participation in the International Athletics Meeting to be held on the 27th April here in Malta is another target.”

“As a wild card there’s participating in the GSSE Games and maybe the Mediterranean Games too.”

Despite the high bar she is setting, if Sammut doesn’t achieve her goals, it certainly won’t be for lack   of trying.  Nor will it be for lack of support from her club St. Patrick’s AC – traditionally largely focused on long distance and road running – that is now starting to look at the track as well.

“As a club we have recently improved our coaching structure,” club chairman Stephen Spiteri said. “We presently have three coaches attached to our club, a juniors coach, a sprint to middle distance coach and a long distance coach. We intend to increase further our coaching staff compliment in the not too distant future.”

This article originally appeared on the Times of Malta. Photo by Wally Galea.


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Copyright 2010 Paul Grech: Writer