An­other podium place for Fabio Spi­teri

Malta Independent - - SPORT - Maria Vella-Galea

Deep blue sea, white fine sandy beaches in the Mediter­ranean is­land of Sardegna were the scene for Fabio Spi­teri’s 16th mid­dle dis­tance triathlon.

Chal­lenge Sardegna, with its chal­leng­ing and tech­ni­cal course lived up to its name when even prior to the race the whole ex­pe­ri­ence was prov­ing to be chal­leng­ing. How­ever, the per­fect weather con­di­tions – sunny with no wind, made up for the flight de­lays caus­ing the Mal­tese group to en­dure a very un­com­fort­able 14hour sea cross­ing with­out lug­gage and bikes, ar­riv­ing a few hours just be­fore the race!

Spi­teri, photo, who is no new­comer to such races, nev­er­the­less felt con­fi­dent. Hav­ing fully re­cov­ered from a nag­ging in­jury, Spi­teri was in the best shape he could pos­si­bly be for the Ital­ian race.

The men’s group, nearly 1,000 strong, saw a strong field and saw Spi­teri get into the sec­ond pack in the 1.9k swim to make his way in the front on the bike seg­ment. The bike course was chal­leng­ing with over 1,400m of el­e­va­tion.

Spi­teri made a de­ter­mined at­tack on the hills to gain the lead as much as pos­si­ble. His run­ning back­ground came to good use in the un­du­lat­ing half marathon seg­ment to clock a time of 1 hour 29 min­utes.

A sprint fin­ish in the last 100m en­abled Spi­teri to ward off an­other ath­lete who was in the same age group en­abling Spi­teri to claim third place in his age group (40-44). Spi­teri com­pleted the 113km dis­tance in 04:43:43.20.

Spi­teri’s per­for­mance saw him qual­ify for the 2017 Chal­lenge World Cham­pi­onships, his sec­ond World Cham­pi­onship qual­i­fi­ca­tion in a short pe­riod of time.

“I was elated to see my re­sult – 28th over­all from a pool of around 900 ath­letes (pros and am­a­teurs) and 3rd place in my age cat­e­gory. Although de­lighted to have qual­i­fied for the 2017 World Cham­pi­onships, I had to de­cline the slot since the would be too close to my Dou­ble Iron­man next year” re­marked Spi­teri.

Chal­lenge Sardegna was Spi­teri’s last race for the 2016 sea­son.

A short break will be fol­lowed by the start of a strict train­ing regime in prepa­ra­tion for Iron­man Aus­tralia in May, Dou­ble Iron­man in Ger­many June and fi­nally the Iron­man 70.3 World Cham­pi­onship in Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee in Septem­ber.

“2016 has tested my lim­its – ini­tially with the in­jury that seem­ingly would not be shaken off and of course with the ef­fort that one puts into such races. I am very pleased to have ended on a very pos­i­tive note which fills me with op­ti­mism for 2017. I am grate­ful for all the sup­port I get, in par­tic­u­lar Garmin Malta (Med­comms Ltd),Go&Fun Mochika, Wheel Wiz­ard, Kinetika, Festina and Spe­cial Eyes,” con­cluded Spi­teri.

Josef Bon­avia was also a par­tic­i­pant in Chal­lenge Sardegna. He com­pleted the race in 05:10:04.10 to fin­ish 12th in his cat­e­gory. Josianne Bon­avia com­pleted her first ever sprint dis­tance (750m swim, 20km cy­cle, 5km run) in 1 hour 36 min­utes.

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