Andrew Grech at the 1st European Games held in Baku

Posted by Mellieha AC 26th June 2015 0 Comment 1219 views

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The fairy-tale of our own Andrew Grech, added another chapter, and like most fairy-tales, it was written far away from home, away from the comfort zone, in Baku, Azerbaijan during the 2015 European Games.

After dominating the local running scene, with victory over victory, Andrew was awarded the privilege to represent Malta in the European Games, in the 5,000 metres event. As usual, he rose to the occasion, and registered a personal best as he ran the 12 and a half laps in 15:21:13.

You arrived a few days before the day of the race. How was your preparation?
While the race was on Sunday, I arrived in Baku on Wednesday morning so I had ample time to adapt to climate conditions. Temperatures were very similar to Malta, soaring in the thirties, in the afternoon.
I trained daily up to race day with specific running technique rather than mileage as specified by my coach Has Kesra.

How did you balance in the last few days before the race between sharpening up and preserving your energy for the race?
I used to wake up with no alarm set, then train, shower and breakfast.
The masseur Jan Farrugia would give me a massage. Following this I would lunch relax with other Maltese athletes.
The Athletes Village was very high end and it was easy to get distracted so I ensured to stay focused on the task ahead.

During the actual race, how did you feel being ‘one of the others following’ rather than leading as has been the case for every race in Malta?
I was prepared for a tough race and had no extra pressure in this case.
I was given a specific lap time to follow by my coach so I just stuck to it, nothing less nothing more.
It paid, as in the last 1,000 metres I felt strong enough to give that little bit more and get a personal best.

It must have been very exciting, being in front of over 20,000 spectators and wearing the Malta kit. However, I imagine there must also have been an element of fear. Which one overrode the other?
Representing Malta is always an honour and a pleasure. It gives me a sense of responsibility more than other occasions and I thrive to give the best. I ran inside the stadium a day before to get more accustomed to it, but running in front of 22,500 is another scenario though.
I think at the end, more than anything else it just boosted me.

What was the strategy of the race?
The strategy was to start with a 3’05″/km pace and if possible accelerate in the last 800-1000metres and I believe I did as being instructed. It would have been foolish to follow the leading group knowing that I won’t be able to keep that pace for 12.5 laps.

Finally, how did it feel breaking your pb with 13 seconds at such great surroundings, and how does it compare to your other achievements?
I felt confident from the start that I could improve my personal best. Racing with those international athletes make you push to higher levels. I had a fantastic season with personal best in the 5,000mtrs 10,000mtrs and full marathon. All this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my coach Has Kesra, MAAA committee led by Edwin Attard who is motivating athletes to give more, MOC, my manager Robert Vella, my club Mellieha A.C., my fellow athletes, my sponsors and my family.

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