St Patrick’s runner Laura Sammut has set a host of new records this year.
Whenever the Games of the Small States of Europe come around, it is normal to see records tumble at Marsa as athletes push themselves to achieve the minimum targets set to secure qualification.
The trend is being maintained 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.
Aged 15, the St Patrick’s AC runner first broke her personal best in the 1,500m in 4min 59sec and then, in the Challenge 2, she breached the 11-minute barrier in the 3,000m mixed race by covering the distance in 10min 44sec.
She bettered her personal best by 17sec and set a national record in the mixed gender not only for her category but for juniors, intermediate and youths.
Time management is the secret to success. If you manage your time well, you can cope. I love athletics and would feel bad if I miss a training session
“To be honest 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 conditions.”
However, that did not diminish her enjoyment.
“It felt great to break the national record in the 3km event. I said to myself that finally my training and sacrifices have paid off. I would like to take the opportunity to thank my coach Rose Tabone and Ibrahim Hussen with whom I train on a frequent basis.”
On top of these records, during the Malta International Meeting Sammut broke the youth national record in the 1,500m distance with a time of 04min 50sec, an improvement of six seconds on the previous best.
While Sammut 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,” she said.
Unsurprisingly, she names her favourite event as being the 3km race.
“I enjoy running the 1,500m but I prefer longer distances,” she said.
“I like pacing my race and the longer the distance the better I can manage my rhythm.”
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 to make new friends and meet other athletes both locally and overseas,” Sammut said.
“I feel that athletics builds me from a character and physical perspective. One has to be self-disciplined to perform in both sports and school.”
As with most other 15-year-olds, free time is at a premium as the demands to focus on their studies become ever more onerous. Yet Sammut has got it all figured out.
She said: “Time management is the secret to success. If you manage your time well, you can cope. 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 in the youth category and my objective is to do well in the upcoming COJI Games in Corsica,” Sammut said.
“My intention is to participate in both 1,500m and 3,000m races but we need to evaluate the programme before deciding. Another ambition I have is the 800m youth girls national record.
“As a wild card there’s participating in the GSSE and maybe the Mediterranean Games too this year.”
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 – 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,” St Patrick’s chairman Stephen Spiteri said.
“We presently have three coaches, a juniors coach, a sprint to middle distance coach and a long distance coach. We intend to increase further our technical staff complement in the not too distant future.”