Up to some years ago, the sports of Triathlon was practically unheard of on the island of Gozo. Buit the recent and ongoing boom in this endurance sport’s popularity spread itself also on our sister island and today the Gozitan Triathlon Community is a small yet very thriving one, with a healthy number of triathletes who are competing regularly in triathlons in Malta and also venturing to the internation races abroad.
One of Gozo’s finest triathletes is Felicienne Mercieca, a 27 year old hailing fromm Xagħra, who was chosen as the Gozitan Sports-Woman Of The Year in a ceremony held last weekend by the Gozo Sports Board. Felicienne has a rather short yet very intense career in triathlon. She recalls how she started running in 2014, under the guidance of her coach, Fabio Spiteri. She trained and competed in a nummber of road-running races and one day she was convinced to spectate at a triathlon race in Malta. She immediately fell in love with the sport and decided, almost on the spare of the moment, to give tri a try. Under the accurate guidance of Spiteri, one of Malta’s mmost prolific triathletes himself, Felicienne started to join the pieces together of the great jigsaw-puzzle that is Triathlon. Training for triathlon in an island which is only 12 kilometres long is already a huge feat, but she was determined to succeed and to be on the start line of a triathlon in the following reason. One of the greatest challenges that Felicienne has to face is the swimming sessions as there are presently no pools where to train in Gozo. For this reason, Felicienne has to wake up in the ungodly hours when she has swimming sessions, catch the 5am ferry from Gozo and join her team-mates for the 6am swimming session. After she is ready, she takes the ferry back to Gozo to start her work as a fitness instructor.
It was in 2015 that Felicienne had her triathlon debut with a good number of Maltese triathlon races. In her first season as a triathlete, Felicienne was already focused to lay strong foundations for her adventures, In fact, during 2016, she successfully completed the Ironman 70.3 Triathlons in Budapest, Hungary and in Dubai, UAE. Locally, she continued participating in most of the multisport events and she also did the swimming crossing of the Gozo Channel from Ħondoq to Marfa. These achievements lead her to a sting of successed for Mercieca, where she obtained third female place overall in the Malta Triathlon Federation’s Triathlete Of The Year Awards in 2016, and which ultimately resulted in the award of the Gozitan Sports Woman of the Year last Saturday.
As soon as she won this coveted prize, Felicienne expressed her gratitude to all those who help her in her triathlon journey. She thanked her coach, Fabio Spiteri, her team Athletic Ac, the Malta Triathlon Federation, her friends and training buddies. Moreover, she expressed her thankfullness to all her family and the staff of Kintetika in Gozo. Her thoughts immediately after recieving her prize were : ‘I was left speechless by receiving this award. The sports of Triathlon is a tough discipline as it requires a lot of time to train, hard excercising , loads of motivation and consistency. But ultimately, I am rewarded as, most importantly, triathlon gives you a lot of self satisfaction and makes you grow strong not only physically, but also emotionally and psychologically. I dedicate this award to all those persons who have contributed to the athlete I am today and to the whole local triathlon comunity!’.