If you ask any long-distance triathlete what is the ultimate dream, the ultimate goal you will definitely receive the answer that the topmost prize would be qualification for the World Ironman Championship, which takes place in Kona, Hawaii, every year in October.
Even the local triathletes, with their passion for long-distance triathlons, have been allured with the almost-mystical aura that surrounds 'Kona' as it is refered in triathlon-jargon. This sense of elusiveness for this holy-grail in endurance multisport was also nurtured by the face that during the first 25 years of triathlon in Malta no one was able to land the coveted prize : a qualification for the Kona Ironman World Championship. That was until 2013 with Dermot Galea's game-changing qualification. Dermot continued to be the only Maltese athlete to qualify for this topmost triathlon prize, until the recent qualification of David Galea some months ago.
David Galea has been into mutlisport and triathlon for two decades. Two decades of constantly being on the top group of athletes practicing the sport and which saw him winning Triathlon Championships, Duathlon Championships and Triathlete of the Year awards in 1996, 1997 and 2004.
In the last years, Galea set his goal on endurance and long distance triathlons abroad, which was crowned with an improved National Record in the iron-distance (3.8KM swim, 180KM bike and 42.2KM run) established a year ago in Barcelona.
However, Galea remained focused and hungry to make his dream a reality and last July, during Ironman UK he achieved his life-long goal and qualified for the prestigious Ironman World Championships.
The Kona race took place in the 50th America State in the second weekend of October. Galea was representing Malta in the most iconic of triathlon in the world, among other 2315 triathletes from all parts of the globe.
Following the swim, Galea emerged from the water after 1 hour and 6 minutes and in 144th place in his category. The bike segment saw Galea advancing to to 112th place and keeping an average speed of 33.5KM/h for more than 6 and a half hours. Galea seems strong and in control until the last segments of the race and managed to climb to 60th place during the marathon run, concluding his feat at 10 hours and 13 minutes.
soon after the race, David Galea commented about his race by stating : 'I have been racing for alwost thirty years now but this must have been the most amazing experience ever! Qualifiying for Kona has haunted me for a long time and now, being here among the topmost endurance triathletes and taking part in this epic race will be an experience to cheris forever. The weather during the race was very hot and with strong winds, but I was focused and mentally strong even when I had to endure the last 10KM on the bike on a puncture.The support on the course was fantastic and the thought of my family, friends and sponsors kept me going until the finish line.
Galea was aided by his sponsors and supported by the Malta Triathlon Federation and Sport Malta.
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 exciting 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 Muscat (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 84-year 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.
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