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Carmen Hili profile

“I Look at my Finishing Time Rather Than My Placing” by Paul Grech

Even with the Maltese public Carmen Hili is a rather anonymous figure, largely unknown outside the circle of those who retain an avid interest in athletics. Yet, along with Carol Galea and Giselle Camilleri, she is among the leading Maltese female long distance athletes.

She confirmed this by winning both the Gatorade Malta Challenge Marathon as we;; as the BMW Malta Marathon – the two major marathons held in Malta – within the space of six months.

“It was my wish,” she replies to the query as to whether this success was her chief ambition, but goes on to admit that winning isn’t always her main target. “My greatest wish is always that of improving my time from the previous year. That is the first thing I check: my finishing time.”

Carmen Hili

“Still, I can’t deny that it was greatly satisfying to win them both.”

Especially since these two marathons happen to be her favoured events, thanks to “the challenge involved in running such a distance.”

A challenge that she habitually overcomes. Her success in the Malta Marathon came after two years during which Hili always finished second.

Still, as she talks about the latest edition, Hili fails to hide her disappointment of taking two more minutes than the previous year to cross the finishing line. “This year I was a little bit slower, even though I won. What happened is that in the final months I had to miss a lot of training because I wasn’t feeling very well. In fact I did a better time than my coach expected,” she says, almost as if to try and defend her result even though there is no need.

All of which confirms just how much she looks at the time clocked rather than her placing. Perhaps that is why her most cherished memory is the time of 2.59 that she clocked at the most recent edition of the Malta Challenge. “I was very pleased with my time at the last Challenge. That I managed to go under the three hours barrier meant a lot to me.”

“The previous year my time had been of three hours and seven minutes. I was really hoping to go under three hours but before the start of the race I was skeptical of the possibilityof taking seven minutes off my time. That I managed to beat the three hour barrier meant a lot to me.”

Ironically, she considers the Challenge to be the most difficult event to compete in. “I can’t stand having to wait from one day to the next [note: the Gatorade Challenge Marathon is broken down into three races the combined distance of which equals that of a marathon]. The wait has become even more unbearable these past two years when I’ve been one of the leaders and therefore there is the added pressure of wondering whether I’ll be able to keep my position. Often I can’t even sleep.”

Her dream is to take part in a marathon outside Malta, even though Hili hasn’t got any set plans. “I can’t deny that I would like to. If you were to offer me the opportunity to go tomorrow, I would. However, at the moment I can’t.” Especially as she has other priorities in life.

“You have to take it day by day because there’s the family to think about!”

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