Over the past eight years, Gary Giordimaina has established himself as the leading freestyle wrestler on the island. Progressing through the Cadets and Junior Categories, he has now commenced competition at Senior Level.
His impressive list of titles speaks for itself: the Commonwealth Champion during the Championships held in Canada in 2015, the runner-up in the Mediterranean Championships held in Spain in 2016, after winning the gold medal in the previous edition held in 2015; a finalist in the last three editions of the Young Sportsman of the Year held annually in Malta, placing second on each occasion and missing out on the coveted award by a mere two points in February this year. Soon to turn 20, Gary has been collecting international awards since 2011 and was offered a scholarship from a university in Canada after competing there in the Summer of 2016 for the Nordhagen Classic (silver medal) and the Junior Commonwealth Championships (gold medal).
Eve: What do you really have to sacrifice to be a successful wrestler?
Gary Giordimaina: You need to be prepared to keep up with a very though and busy training schedule. You also need to be willing to live a healthy lifestyle in terms of nutrition, which means you need to eat healthy and obviously stay away from harmful substances like cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. Being in a sport which is not very popular in Malta possesses its own sacrifices, in that you have to be able to deal with people not understanding how hard you work. Sometimes you might feel alone in your struggles but you can’t let that stop you!
Eve: In your opinion, should more Maltese boys and girls be encouraged to take up this sport?
GG: I am sure that if more boys and girls tried wrestling, perhaps in schools during PE lessons, the sport would be very successful. This is simply because it’s a sport in which one makes use of the entire body, so by practicing freestyle wrestling you’ll be improving your strength, speed, coordination, stamina, flexibility and so on. Wrestling will keep your whole body fit. You’ll be doing so in an exciting and fun way, which surely beats running on a treadmill or around a track for 40 minutes.
Eve: What makes you feel most alive as a person?
GG: Getting your hand raised just after winning a tough wrestling match is honestly what makes me feel most alive, and it is probably the reason why I sacrifice so much for this sport. Knowing you’ve put in all that hard work, made all those sacrifices, and it has finally paid off is an indescribable feeling. It is truly a pity that most people will go their whole life not knowing what this feels like.
Photo credits: Gary Giordimaina’s Facebook
Eve: In what area do you feel you need to make the most effort to be disciplined in this sport?
GG: I think just keeping up with the training schedule is probably what will make you most disciplined in this sport. You have to train for hours every day. When you factor in the long shifts at work or the long hours spent listening to lectures and studying, doing your training is the last thing you feel like. Trust me, it’s very easy to stay at home and just relax instead of getting on the wrestling mat and pushing yourself to the limit after a hard day’s work, but the easy way doesn’t get your hand raised at the end of the match.
Eve: What’s your general perception of the local wrestling scene?
GG: Wrestling in Malta is very small. Nonetheless, we consider ourselves a family and help each other become better wrestlers every day. As I’ve said, I strongly believe that if wrestling were to be introduced in schools and thus more kids would be introduced to it, it would become much stronger. It’s a sport with a lot of potential, but it needs the system to recognise it and implement it in schools, not just introduce kids to the same two or three popular sports like football and basketball.
Eve: Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
GG: To be honest, at the moment I am at a point where I’m faced with a lot of options and so I am not quite sure what the future will hold for me. But if I am certain of one thing, it’s that no matter how many years will pass I will still be wrestling. It is something I’ve grown up with, it comes natural to me and I can’t picture my life without it.