Just a couple of years ago, it seemed impossible for any Maltese triathlete to achieve the dream of qualifying for the World Ironman Championship. It felt like a pie in the sky for the members of the local triathlon community, no matter how hard they tried. However the spell has been broken in 2013 with Dermot Galea making the historical move and represent Malta at the Ironman World Championships in October that year. Fast forward to this this year and the Maltese Triathlon Federation can boast of its members David Galea qualifying to the World Championships in the full distance while Hannah Pace and Rudolph Agius managed to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships which will be held in he first weekend of September in Gold Coast, Australia.
The triathlon CV of Rudolph Agius is not an extensive one but surely a most spectacular rise. Attracted to triathlon about 8 years ago for photographic reasons rather than competitive one, Rudolph soon got the tri-bug and started to take part in triathlons with some very remarkable results. In fact, Agius soon established himself as one of the topmost triathletes on the island and found himself a place in the National Triathlon Team, where he competed in the Triathlon Championships of the Small States of Europe which were held in Luxembourg in 2012.
Rudolph soon started to specialise in middle and long distance triathlons. In the past four years he completed a staggering amount of such endurance races : 4 Ironman Triathlons in Zurich and Frankfurt, 2 Ironman 70.3 Triathlon in France and Spain and in the last four national Long-Distance National Championships. In the local race, Rudolph established the Race-Course Record in 2014 and was the First Maltese and National Long-Distance Champion in 2016.
The spur of the Maltese success gave Agius a great boost as he raced the race of his live in the week after and obtained the qualification to the coveted Ironman 70.3 World Championship which will be held in Australia in 6 weeks' time. For this efforts and results, Agius was rewarded by the World Triathlon Corporation with the Silver AWA badge in recognition of being among the best 5% triathletes on a global level.
When contacted soon after this successful performance, Agius was ecstatic. 'This is a dream come true, not only for me but also for all does who support me and believe in my ability that one day, I will make this a reality. I have been training hard and long for the past handful of years and this qualification is the sum of all those sacrifices that I put in everyday ,with ever swim, bike-ride and run. However, I am not going out to Australia feeling accomplished. I know I will have to face some of the world's toughest long-distance triathletes and I want to be on top to make the performance of a lifetime. Whatever the outcome, I will definitely make the most out of it and will give all I have until I cross the finish line.'
To make this happen, Agius relies on a supporting team without whom his ventures would not be possible. Agius thanked wholeheartedly the Malta Triathlon Federation as well as his sponsors : Attard Bros Group , BigMat Malta , Nectar Group , Rocs Group , Emirates , The Cyclist - Scott bike , Garmin Malta , Derek Stafrace physiotherapist.
David Galea will become the second only Maltese Triathlete to qualify and take part in the Ironman World Championship, following the qualification of Dermot Galea in 2013. David Galea managed to obtain this coveted-for pass after a perfect race in Ironman UK which was held last Sunday at Bolton. The race also featured two other Maltese Triathletes, Jude Zammit and Gejtu Catania who train regularly with Galea.
In the past 4 years, Galea, Zammit and Catania have been training hard for long distance triathlons. An Ironman is an endurance triathlon which sees athletes swim almost 4 kilometres, then cycle 180 kilometres and then run a full-marathon of 42 kilometres.
These events require a huge amount of training and sacrifices, as preparation for such races requires long hours of training throughout the week. The trio train for most of the time as a group and they support each other continuously. Long runs of over 2 hours and long cycling sessions of over 4 hr at the end of every weekend would have been impossible to endure on one's own. Participation in Ironman Bolton had been planned right after they completed Ironman Barcelona last October where David Galea established a new record for a Maltese athlete, 9 hours, 10 minutes and 33 seconds. The prospect of qualifying for the Kona event wetted his appetite and despite being a very difficult course, it was believed that Bolton will be the event that offered the best possibility for the Worlds' qualification. Having a very hilly bike route improved the chances for athletes that excel on the climbs.
The race proved to be even harder than expected. Swimming in the murky waters of the Pennington Flash reservoir with very limited visibility made things harder, while the bike course in the region of Wigan had an elevation gain of 2165m and at times the wind was rather strong. The run had an elevation gain of 330m which makes it a very unusual marathon course with some segments having an incline of 9%. The weather changed drastically by the time the run started as from a chilly morning it turned to a very warm afternoon with temperatures soaring to 26 C.
Galea had a strong performance in all 3 disciplines. He swam the 3800m segment in just under 63 minutes, 18th in his age group, and cycled the 180 km bike section in 5 hours 45 minutes to rise to 12th position and finally pushed towards the qualifying time and moving up to 5th position in his category out of 390 finishers by running the marathon in 3 hours 36 minutes to an overall time of 10:37:12.
With this result, Galea reaches the global pinnacle in long-distance triathlon as he secures his place in the World Championship which will be held in October on Kona island, in Hawaii.
Galea has a long history of successes under his belt, as he was crowned Long-Distance National Champion in 2014, Triathlon Champion in 2003 while he managed to take the three most important championships (Triathlon, Duathlon and Triathlete Of The Year) in 1996. 1997 and 2004.
The other two Maltese triathlete were in the same category and also managed the performance they were aiming for, with Zammit finishing in 11 hours 43 minutes and in 21st spot, while Catania managed to conclude in 11 hours and 52 minutes while placing 24th in the category.
Galea thanked both Zammit and Catania for their continous support throughout the last years of training. Reporting a few moments after his qualification, Galea thanked all his friends, team-mates and sponsors, the Malta Triathlon Federation for the support and finally much appreciation for his wife Sharon and his family for their patience and encouragement.
The members of the Malta Triathlon Federation gave a tremendous expression of support towards the current management of the Federation, in particular towards President, Cyprian Dalli. All this happened as the MTF's Executive Board called upon its members for an Extraordinary General Meeting which was held on the 8 of July, at The George Hotel in St. Julian's.
The EGM was called after months of persisting denigrative comments and posts on social media sites about the operation of management of the Federation from a sanctioned athlete. In his report on the state of affairs, Dalli gave a full explanation of the situation that emerged from the issue, with a chronolgical sequence of events that unfolded since November 2015. In his report, backed with correspondences and quotations from letters exchanged, Dalli emphasised that all this situation should be a learning opportunity to all those involved in the sport to uphold the values of sport, to cooperate for the advancement and development of the Triathlon and to ensure that all proceedings are held in line with the MTF Constitution and its Codes of Conduct. Dalli went on to outline the major successes of Triathlon Malta in the past four and a half years of his presidency, while outlining the support of the Executive Board members, the affiliated clubs, the sponsors and the Sport Organisation with which the MTF is affiliated to.
Following his report, Dalli went on to dissolve the Executive Board of the Federation. At this point, Mr Euchar Camilleri was appointed Chairperson and entrusted with the proceedings for the voting. The Vote of Confidence clearly asked the members to express their support or otherwise towards the management of the Federation, denounce any denigrative remarks passed against the Malta Triathlon Federation high-ranking official and empowered the Federation to take all necessary action to defend its reputation and that of its management.
The result of the voting read 4 votes against the motion and 81 votes in favour, while 3 votes were null or void. The result was welcomed with a roaring applause in sign of support. In his concluding speech, Dalli thanked all those who expressed their support but directed his attention to those 4 who voted against, stating that he will be willing to hear their criticism and see how to put forward their propositions and suggestions for improvement.
Soon after the EGM, Dalli stated that 'These has been some challenging times for us as a Federation and for me personally, but we stood up for each other, and turned this threat into an opportunity to gather our members and make them feel proud of being part of this Federation. Today's vote was very eloquent : the Federation is as strong, healthy and determined as ever before. Today was not the conclusion. It's time to look forward with optimism and enthusiasm again after months of bleakness. Today is the first day of our continuation of the vision we have - to develop the sport of triathlon in Malta, together!' concluded President Dalli.
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