Jake Vella, the 8-year-old Maltese boy who stole many people’s heart as he battles ROHHAD, one of the rarest conditions in the world, smiles to the audience on national TV.
Jake is still a kid, but runs triathlon across Malta despite his desease makes him gain weight no matter how much exercises or diets he does.
He has recently been hospitalized and was connected via Skype last night when, at the SportMalta Awards, he became the most ispirational athlete in his country.
Jake Vella has been just one of the Maltese athletes awarded at the 60th edition of the SportMalta Awards – Għażliet Sportivi Nazzjonal. This celebratory year brought a powerful message of courage, passion and desire to launch Maltese sports culture into a brighter future, more aware of its means.
The ceremony, organised by the Malta Sport Journalist Association and SportMalta, the sport agency under the control of Parliamentary Secretary for Youths and Sports, was held at the Hilton Malta. Various athletes, guests and personailities from the Mediterranean island walked the red carpet before settling in the theatre. The ceremony was also available on national channel TVM2.
Seven athletes have been awarded after the last decisive vote of the 8-people jury, which comprises sportscasters from Malta and Gozo. The final voting has been shown live to the audience, with jurors giving score – from 1 to 15 points – to the five finalists for each category.
Jake Vella triumphed in the special category Peoples’s Choice award, which has been determined for the 50% by the public, the 30% by the sporting federations and 20% by the jury.
Among the special guests present at the event the former breaststroke gold medal in Sydney 2000 the Hungarian swimmer Agnes Kovacs addressed the audience:
“After sport, I decided to be successful in the academic field. Being an athlete is fantastic but being a former gold medal is not always easy. Once you retire from the competitions you are still a young and need to reinvent somehow. I decided to study sport and media, so tonight, I am in the right place,” said Kovacs.
You don’t have to been an olympic champion to learn a lot from sport. To stand up after a failure, which is one of the highest messages, should guide the lives of everyone. And as I have learned from my life and research, it is especially up to us, athletes and journalists, to run together to defend this culture,” concluded Kovacs.
AIPS President Gianni Merlo took strong stance while speaking on stage: “Athletes and journalists share the same responsibility nowadays. With our world facing threats from many sides, we can’t go solo and divert from each other. It is essential to work together to save the freedom of expression and the values of sport, making them fertile soil to grow the new generations. Sport means education, sport means culture.”
Each one of the people taking the floor, from the awarded Sportswoman of the Year Lisa Marie Bezzina – in tears during her emotional speech – to the Parliamentary Secretary for Youths and Sports Clifton Grima, shared the same, straight message: the culture of sport is essential to overcome crisis and connect generations, just as Jake’s story taught us.
The SportMalta Awards 2020 are the image of the message that Malta is spreading abroad. Excellence can come even from small realities, like our small association proved by organising this event with quality and professionality.”
Here is the list of the winning athletes:
FEMALE YOUTH OF THE YEAR: Mya Azzopardi – Swimming MALE YOUTH OF THE YEAR: Jake Muscat – Waterpolo COACH OF THE YEAR: Karl Izzo – Waterpolo OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR: Joe Caruana Curran – Waterpolo TEAM OF THE YEAR: Elusive 2 – Sailing PEOPLE CHOICE AWARD: Jake Vella – Traithlon SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR: Jordan Gusman – Athletics SPORTSWOMEN OF THE YEAR: Lisa Maria Bezzina – Athletics