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8 June 2003, 06:40 pm
Borg and Mariani Awarded Gold Medal Each
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©Mario Grech

Games of the Small States of Europe
St. Paul's Bay

It was a great day for Benji BORG at St Paul's Bay, on Friday as he conquered the gold medal in the Optimist Class. He finished the event equal on 10 points with Monaco's Matthieu MARIANI. In fact, both sailors were awarded a gold medal.
Malta also clinched the bronze medal in the event through the third placing of Matthew Fleri SOLER, who ended up with 25 penalty points.

There was also a glorious moment for Peter VALENTINO0 (MLT) in the Laser Radial Class making sure of the silver medal as he finished second, just ahead of Cypriot sailor Angelos COOSGROVE. Valentino finished on 19 points to Coosgrove's 20. The gold medal went to Andrea ORLANDO of Monaco who totalled 16 points.

At the end of the day's final race in the Optimist Class, an enthusiastic group of young sailors, including his younger brother Sean, accompanied Benji to the quay where he was given a tremendous ovation by all those present, among whom were his parents Andre and Graziella. Soon after his arrival, Benji said he was very excited at having won gold. "It was very tough. Mariani is a very good sailor and he kept battling till the end."

The 13-year-old Benji added that it was his first ever big victory. "I have taken part in the Europeans and in Dubai events (twice) so far, but this is my first win. I am satisfied with my performance and hope to do better in future. I am dedicating this medal to my parents for their support," he said.

The Optimist Class coach Jean Paul Fleri Soler told The Malta Independent that he was "extremely satisfied" with Benji Borg's gold and Matthew Fleri Soler's bronze medal.

He added: "It is simply incredible. These were four days of fierce racing. Monaco's Mariani gave my boys a good run for their money. But that is what they needed. There was great competitive spirit and it made the regatta extremely interesting from start to finish."

Fleri Soler admitted they never expected such a success. "We set out for two medals but we did not know what colour they would have been. We have crowned our successful participation with gold and bronze medals. We can say we have reached our goals."

Why two gold medals were awarded in Optimist Class

Following the conclusion of the Optimist Class, Benji Borg of Malta and Matthieu Mariani of Monaco registered an equal number of points, which resulted in a tied result. Both competitors registered the same number of firsts in the regatta out of eight races. However, in line with the normal procedure the Monaco athlete was classified in first place.

On the intervention of Mr Paul Henderson, the President of the International Sailing Federation, present in Malta to supervise the event, and with the approval of the international delegate George ANDREADIS and the unanimous decision of the jury headed by the Chairman Dr Giorgio LAURO, it was decided to award a gold medal to both athletes given the absolute equilibrium displayed on the water.

Full results are available on the event website at the address below.
Event Media (As Amended by ISAF News Editor)
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