It was the return of the king and queen at the National Duathlon Championships, organised by the Malta Triathlon Federation on the 1 of May. Both Danica Bonello-Spiteri and Keith Galea banked upon their disappointment of last year and came out on tops by beating last year's title winners, Michelle Vella-Wood and Fabio Spiteri respectively. While it was the second Duathlon Nationals claimed by Galea, it was the 8th for Bonello-Spiteri who has confirmed herself as the most successful female triathlete Malta has ever produced.
Both winners wanted to ensure enough ground between them and the rest of the field by opening strong advantages from the early stages. While Galea opened a 30 second gap on Spiteri after the first run of 4.25KM, Bonello-Spiteri had already both hands on the title at Transition One by leading the female contenders by more than a minute.
In the men's category, Brian Magri ensured a customary strong run by placing the second fastest run in the first part, while Fabio Spiteri closed down the gap on Galea by the fastest bike-split of the day, covering the 9 laps of Zebbug By-Pass in just over 59 minutes.
The gap in the female race remained unchanged during the cycling segment and augmented further in the last run which saw Bonello-Spiteri comfortably taking the honour by over two minutes on the fighting Vella-Wood. Margaret Seguna continued her positive streak by finishing third.
Meanwhile, the battle for the male title continued and although Spiteri fought hard to diminish the Galea lead, who trailed the new Duathlon Champion by almost a minute, while Rudolph Agius claimed the third step of the podium by a strong run in the last segment of the race.
Ryan Saliba claimed the Male Under 23 Title, while Donatelle Camilleri and David Galea won the Seniors categories.
In the Sprint Distance, Kevin Muscat dominated the field, while John Scicluna ran hard in the last segment to claim second spot and teenager Shaun Galea followed on the podium. In the female race, Gianella Bugeja Persiano topped the chart with a strong performance in the running segment, while young Lara Buttigieg made optimum use of her strong cycling to take second place. Newcomer Tara Vella managed to overcome adversity during the bike segment to finish in a strong third place. A relay-race was also organised, which saw runner Hadrian Bonello and cyclist Etienne Bonello dividing the effort to claim the category.
The Sprint Under 23 section was claimed by Denise Buttigieg and new-comer Jake Vella, while the Senior categories were topped by William Brydon and ex-National Champion Angele Cremona.
In total, 72 athletes participated on the two distances, which established an all-time record of participation in these championships for the MTF.
Commenting just after the race, Cyprian Dalli, President of the MTF was radiant. 'Today has been a great day for multisport in Malta. The Federation had everything it could have wished for: record number of participants, course records, confirmation of strong performances by the National Team members, a very good number of young and budding athletes who will ensure that this sport will continue to develop and grow in number and quality in the years to come, together with a priceless set of people who volunteer to ensure smooth-running of the events we organise', said Dalli just after the awards were presented by Director of Sport of the Maltese Olympic Committee, Mr Mario Micallef.
The event was supported by www.TriRush.com, a sport-related online-shop who is partnering with the MTF on a number of projects.
The next event for the Malta Triathlon Federation will be held on the 2 of August, where the first-ever National Aquathlon (run-swim-run) Championship will be held at Marsaxlokk & Birzebbuga.
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