Danica Bonello Spiteri and Shaun Galea defended to the best of their abilities the National Aquathlon Titles in a very exciting race held on Sunday by the Malta Triathlon Federation. It was Galea’s second Aquathlon title in a row, while Bonello Spiteri has now won all four consecutive titles in this multisport speciality since its inception on local soil in 2014.
The Force 6 Northern winds played havoc on the MTF’s plans to host this National contest for the first time in Bugibba as the waves came in high and strong to batter the shoreline on race morning. However, after due deliberation and consideration, the Federation turned to its plan B and changed the venue to the tried-and-tested grounds of the Salini Bay on the Coast Road.
The race saw a very interesting mix of established multisport athletes and a healthy number of newcomers, with most of them being young athletes ready eager to test themselves. The National Championship was raced on the World-Championship distances, that is two runs of 2.5KMs each with a swim of 1000 metres in between. The race was oncea again supported by Gatorade Sports Drink and San Michel Water : official hydration suppliers for Triathlon Malta.
From the very first seconds of the contest, reigning champion Shaun Galea went into the lead and established the fastest Run 1 of the lot covering the distance in 8 minutes and 34 seconds. He was closely followed by the formidable 15-year old Malcolm Vassallo, and Neil Markham. However, in the swimming section it was Latvian Stanislav Vaipans who rocketed in front and opened a gap on his closest rivals, young Bernard Sant and Graham Borg. But Galea once again was on fire on the run as the Pembroke Atleta competitor went on to claim his second Aquathlon national title in a time of 34 minutes and 50 seconds, just 9 seconds ahead of Vaipans in second and minute in front of Borg in third.
In the female race, Run 1 did not manage to differentiate the most anticipated contestants away from each other as Danica Bonello Spiteri, Celine Pace, Margaret Seguna amd Hannah Pace entered into the Transition in just an 8 seconds gap. Pace managed to pull through and record the fastest swim of the lot, with Bonello Spiteri and Seguna trailing 7 seconds behind, but Bonello Spiteri of St. Patrick’s AC recorded the fastest Run 2 to seal her 100% winning claim on the Aquathlon National Championships in a time of 38 minutes and 15 seconds, followed by Pace in second and Seguna in third.
In the Age-Categories, the Youth category was won by Jean Claude Randon of St. Patrick’s AC, while the Junior titles were won by Bernard Sant of B’Kara St. Joseph and Anjelika Ruggier. The Over 30 category went to James Cutajar and Pembroke Atleta’s Celine Pace, the Over 40 to Denise Tanner and Niki Bilocca, while the Over 50 titles went to the ever-greens Angele Cortis and Brian Magri. In the Relay-Team categories, the title went to the duo composed of runner Jonathan Carter and swimmer Jake Diedo.
A full programme of Children and Youth Aquathlon races were held immediately after, which saw 40 athletes between 6 and 16 fighting it out in thrilling races. Overall, it was the Malta Youth Triathlon Academy – MYTA who garnered the biggest haul of titles by claiming 5 out of the 8 top spots available. Julienne Woods won Category 1, Luke Camilleri won Category 2, Thomas Woods JR. topped Category 3 while Gabriel Bongailas and Callie Hock won the top sports in Category 4, all running for the MYTA colours. Other successes were registered by Daniel Pauley of La Salle in Category 1, Zoe Ives in Category 2 and Charlotte Spencer in Category 3.
The next weeks will be very busy for the Malta Triathlon Federation as it will hold the National Sprint-Triathlon Championship on the 10 of September in collaboration with Birkirkara St. Joseph Sport Club, while the season will come to an end in the Grand Final of the Express Trailers National Triathlon Championship, which will be held in collaboration with Mosta Cycling Club on Sunday 8 October.