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Bonavia, Bonello Spiteri triumph in National Sprint Championships

Josef Bonavia on his way to victory in the National Sprint Championships. Photo: Deacon Xuereb

Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club hosted the final race of the four-part Go & Fun BSJ Sprint Triathlon Series in Salina on Sunday. The triathlon, which consisted of a 750m swim, a 20km cycle and a 5km run took place in hot conditions as the race brought the curtain down on the club’s summer of sport.

The race was also designated, by the Malta Triathlon Federation, as the National Sprint Triathlon Championships.

Josef Bonavia registered his first championship title in a race which was bravely fought from start to finish.

Bonavia, who registered a third place in the first race but subsequently won all the others was not going to have it easy with the likes of Shaun Galea, Bernard Sant and Joseph Galea hot on each other’s heels.

First out of the water was Bernard Sant, followed by Shaun Galea.

The duo had just one second separating them as they entered the bike transition.

Bonavia was the eighth triathlete to exit the water with a gap of 1 minute 47 seconds to deal with as the other contenders were already out on the bike course.

Putting faith in his cycling abilities, Bonavia, having consistently registered the fastest bike split of the series, battled on despite having both Shaun Galea and Joseph Galea ahead of him.

A push in the last few metres of the bike segment saw Bonavia edging himself ahead of Shaun Galea.

Danica Bonello Spiteri in action at the National Sprint Triathlon Championships. Photo: Deacon Xuereb

Leading the way out of the bike to run transition was Joseph Galea.

Bonavia knowing that a possible victory lay ahead overtook him to take the lead.

Yet the race was not over. Shaun Galea went into the final segment of the run with a strong fighting spirit yet was no match for Bonavia who raced towards his first national championship title.

Bonavia finished the race in one hour one minute 53 seconds – his best time for this year’s series.

Galea finished in second place 51 seconds behind him.

With Bonavia and Galea ready from racing, a thrilling battle was ensuing for third place.

Bernard Sant and Joseph Galea were racing neck to neck for most of the 5km route. The last 200 metres were to decide their fate, with Galea outsprinting Sant and pipping him to third place by a mere three seconds.

As was expected Danica Bonello Spiteri emerged the overall female winner of the series and crowned National Sprint Triathlon champion.

For Bonello Spiteri, this race was a return to the winners’ podium, adding another title to the extensive list of national accolades earned throughout her triathlon career.

Bonello Spiteri finished the race in one hour nine minutes and 40 seconds, leading the way throughout.

In second place was Pia Zammit. She registered her best time of the series, shaving off one minute and 32 seconds from the previous race.

In third place was Lindsey Pirotta.

Pirotta, exited the water with a 44-second advantage over Lindsay Zammit. The latter narrowed the gap with a faster transition and bike segment. Zammit managed to overtake Pirotta in this segment.

A faster run from Pirotta saw her edge her way past Zammit to claim her first podium place.

“Every year brings its challenges, however, this year was particularly difficult in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are grateful that we were able to complete our summer of sport programme thanks to the co-operation of all involved stakeholders who ensured a safe racing environment,” enthused Euchar Camilleri, Secretary General, Birkirkara St Joseph Sports Club.

“2020 still remains a memorable year as the club celebrates 45 years of sport. We now take a short break before starting our preparations for the 2021 season.”

Birkirkara St. Joseph is grateful towards Go & Fun Energy Drink Malta for supporting the Series for another year as well as the Naxxar Local Council, Transport Malta, Emergency Services, Malta Bike Marshalls and all the race officials and volunteers for their invaluable help.

RESULTS

National Sprint Championships

Men: 1. Josef Bonavia 1:01.53; 2. Shaun Galea 1:02.36; 3. Joseph Galea 1:02.44.

Women: Danica Bonello Spiteri 1:09.40; 2. Pia Zammit 1:17.04; 3. Lindsey Pirotta 1:18.31.

Go&Fun BSJ Sprint Triathlon Series

Men: 1. Josef Bonavia; 2. Joseph Galea; 3. Neil Markham.

Women: 1. Danica Bonello Spiteri; 2. Pia Zammit; 3. Clara Attard Formosa.

Age group winners – BSJ Sprint Tri Series

U-23: Sean Michael Darmanin; Deborah Desira.

Seniors 40-49: Kristjan Briffa; Charmaine Sciberras.

Seniors 50-59: Kevin Muscat.

Seniors 60+: Richard Camilleri, Maria Belsten.

Age group winners – BSJ Sprint Tri Series

U-23: Malcolm Vassallo, Deborah Desira.

Seniors 40-49: Steve Chetcuti, Charmaine Sciberras.

Seniors 50-59: Kevin Muscat, Suzanne Farrugia.

Seniors 60+: Nicky Farrugia , Maria Belsten.

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