Pace and Galea reign supreme at the Malta national championship
It was perhaps the most significant day in the history of Triathlon in Malta that which was lived during the National Triathlon Championship held at the Coast Road on Sunday 2 October 2016. This because the event saw the largest number of athletes ever gathered for a national triathlon championship on the island. In fact, a total of 139 athletes came together for what proved to be an excitiing race from start to finish in all categories.
Keith Galea celebrated with yet another National multisport championship his fresh fatherhood just a couple of days before when his wife Elizabeth gave birth to Elise. It was to them that Galea dedicated his 6th National Triathlon crown immediately after the race. But things weren't easy for Galea as he came out of the water at the end of the 1500m swim trailing behind Omar Said and Shaun Galea. Things continued to turn negative for the defending champion who at the start of the bike leg slipped with the bike and lost precious minutes to the leading duo. However, he remained focused and calm and went on the claim the best bike-leg of the day with a time of 1 hour, 2 minutes and 33 seconds, which meant he was at the helm of the race at Transition 2. Fabio Spiteri had a great bike segment to which saw him advance 7 places during the 40KM bike course. During the 10KM final run segment, Galea administered his advantage to claim the 6th National Triathlon title in his career. Spiteri was second notwithstanding he was part of the Over 40 Age category, while Neil Markham, from the Under 23 section claimed the third step of the podium after a strong and consistent race.
In the female race, Hannah Pace started to dominate the race immediately and came out of the water with a 40 second advantage on the second places Margaret Seguna. It was however Michelle Vella Wood who lodged the fastest female bike leg and managed to chop off a good one minute on the leader. However, Pace went on for a strong run and crossed the finish line with more almost 8 minutes advantage. This was Pace's first ever National Triathlon Championship title. Seguna held on to the second place which was commendable seeing that she was plagued with injuries in the past year. Vella Wood managed to claim the third place notwithstanding having suffered on the run.
Hon. Parliamentary Secretary Chris Agius, MOC President Julian Pace Bonello and MOS Secretary General Joseph Cassar presented the awards to the winners immediately after the race. In the Age-Groups, trophies were awarded to Claire Azzopardi Lane (Over 35), Karen Amato (Over 40), Suzanne Farrugia (Over 50) and Marian Belsten (Over 60) in the Female categories. In the Male groups, it was Shaun Galea (Under 23), Omar Said (Over 35), Nathan Farrugia (Over 40), Kevin Zammit (Over 45), Brian Magri (Over 50), William Brydon (Over 55) and Joseph Cortis (Over 60) who took the honours.
In an ancillary race contest on the Sprint-Triathlon Distance (750m swim, 20KM bike and 5KM run), it was 10-time National Triathlon Champion Dermot Galea who won the Male category, with Kelvin Goodwin in second and Bernard Sant in third place. The Female Sprint Race was won by Claire Davis of the UK, with Charmaine Sciberras and Anjelika Ruggier in second and third place respectively. The Age Categories in the Sprint Distance were claimed by Shaun Demicoli (Under 23), Neil Sorrell and Lucy Cutler (Over 40), Anthony Fenech (Over 50) and Pawlu Brincat (Over 60). The 84year old Englishman Malc Bennett stole the show as he won the Over 80 category. The winning Sprint-Relay team was composed of runner Lee Galea, cyclist Enrico Bradamante and runner Caroline Thiebosch.
The races were supported for the second year running by Magri Cycles of Mosta, which the Malta Triathlon Federation thanked wholeheartedly after the event. Sports nutrition during the event was provided by Pro-Action Sports Nutrition and massage services for post-race recovery by Perskindol Malta. Electronic timing system was provided by the ARRTS electronic system of Agones S&F Club.
The Malta Triathlon, in a statement, said that this year's National Triathlon Championship took Triathlon in Malta to a whole new level, not only for the record number of athletes participating, but also for the high level of organisation and race-management reached. For this reason, the Federation publicly thanked all the stake-holders involved in the race organisation, mostly Transport Malta, the Malta Police Force and its Traffic Section and all the volunteers who cooperated and ensure a smooth and safe race for all the participants.
Hannah Pace at the end of her swim - Photo Mark Borg
Keith Galea celebrating his victory - Photo Angie Conti