Not just a game – Times of Malta

The French Embassy in Malta will strive to increase the relations between Malta and France in the field of sports.
The French Embassy in Malta and Xterra Malta have agreed to build on the success of their first joint operation last year and to extend their cooperation in May 2022 with the Gozo Trail Run. As in the November 2021, for each French participant in the Gozo Trail Run, an amount was donated to the NGO Inspire, which works on disability issues in Malta.
The Gozo Trail Run is a coast-hugging, 50km/21km/11km trail-running event that circumvents the island of Gozo. The 21km trail is run over the last part of the course, finishing in G─žajnsielem. Those running the Gozo route for the first time can opt for the 11km distance.
This year, on the initiative of the French Embassy and Xterra Malta, the event also welcomed to Malta and Gozo the French ultra-trail runner Mathieu Blanchard, who ranked third at the UTMB in 2021, probably the biggest trail race in the world. Blanchard finished first in the 51k, beating the record of the race in only 4h15m. But running was not his only purpose by coming to Malta.
In an interview given to Times of Malta, Blanchard, having spent a few days speaking to fellow athletes and giving talks at National School of Sport in Pembroke, he said that he believed local athletes need more support to become better.

“I think that Malta is perfect to train because somewhere it is always too cold or too hot to train but in Malta it’s like spring all year. You can do everything, so you have the perfect environment to train. But if you want to improve your level you need to compete, and you need to have a reference,” Blanchard explained.
Before taking part in the trail, Blanchard also participated in a series of activities in Malta and Gozo, as part of the sports collaboration between France and Malta. He also gave a talk at the Nike Store, The Point, Sliema, along with top local trail runners Tara Abdilla and Ryan Farrugia – they exchanged views on professional sport, on the relationships with partners and sponsors, on nutrition and relaxation.
The French Embassy in Malta said that Blanchard’s presence in Malta was also intended to shine the spotlight on high-level sport and encourage the practice of sport at any age. As the next Summer Olympics will be held in Paris in 2024, with many female and male Maltese athletes participating, the French Embassy in Malta will strive to gradually increase the relations between Malta and France in the field of sports.
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