Antonio Flores, Malta’s only blade runner, is training 12 hours a week as he gears up for this month’s competition in Paris where he hopes to qualify for Tokyo’s Paralympics next year.
“Training is going well and I’m feeling very motivated and happy to be going on this journey,” he said, as he prepared for the important competition being held between August 26 and 31.
Prof. Paolo Catalfamo, GlobalCapital chairman and Italy’s 400m champion for under-18s, joined Mr Flores during his training session at the Malta Amateur Athletic Association track in Marsa to follow his progress.
GlobalCapital is the sole sponsor of Mr Flores’s trip to classify in Paris, after Prof. Catalfamo saw the young athlete’s crowdfunding appeal in the media and came forward to back him.
“I could see myself at his age. I had dedicated my life to running and sacrificed a lot for it… Antonio has an even bigger challenge, and I was deeply touched by his strength and determination not only to train every day, but also to collect funds to make his dream possible,” Prof. Catalfamo said.
During their meeting Mr Flores also showed Prof. Catalfamo his latest acquisition — a sprint specific blade, which he has been training with and which he hopes will help secure him a spot in Tokyo 2020.
Mr Flores, who was born with clubfoot, said: “Having a blade which is comfortable, powerful and efficient not only helps me from the physical aspect but also boosts my morale and confidence.”
Before he makes to the Paralympics, Mr Flores has to undergo an assessment process in Paris where he will also need to meet the stipulated timings to qualify for the 100m and 200m races.
Asked what message he had for those waving the flag for his classification, Mr Flores said: “Persevere and have faith in your potential. We are more capable than we think we are — don’t set yourself boundaries.”