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Dejan Grech and Haley Bugeja net top awards at SportMalta Awards

Devis Mangia and Malta women complete memorable night for MFA

Football dominated the 61st edition of the SportMalta Awards Għażliet Sportivi Nazzjonali as Haley Bugeja, Malta national teams head coach Devis Mangia and the women’s national team were among the major winners in last night’s ceremony which was held on virtual broadcast.

Dejan Grech was named as the Sportsman of the Year, while young weightlifter Tenishia Thornton and sailor Richard Schulteis were named Young Sportswoman and Young Sportsman of the year respectively.

Malta Basketball Association general secretary Joseph Muscat was named as the Official of the Year.

The 61st edition was a unique one due to the current Covid-19 pandemic situation in that it was not one in which finalists and guests could interact socially. Instead a virtual ceremony was held within the guidelines of the legal notice issued recently by the Malta Health Authorities.

Guest speakers during this transmission included Dr Clifton Grima, the Parliamentary Secretary responsible from Sport, Recreation and Voluntary Organisations, Dr Luciano Busuttil,  SportMalta chairman, SportMalta CEO Mark Cutajar and Sandro Micallef, president of the Malta Sports Journalists Association.

The winners of seven from the 11 categories contested were decided by a panel of journalists selected by the Malta Sports Journalists Association.

In the Sportsman of the Year award, the title went to Dejan Grech. In February 2020, the young pool player caught the headlines when he was crowned European U-23 champion in the continental competition held at the Dolmen Hotel. He had defeated Morgan Thomas, of Ireland, 7-3 in the final.

Dejan Grech was named as the Sportsman of the Year.

Grech collected more points than waterpolo player Ben Plumpton and horse racing driver Rodney Buttigieg.

Haley Bugeja crowned an extraordinary 2020 when the Malta women forward was named as the Sportswoman of the Year.

Bugeja was a key member of the women’ national team that collected a record tally of points in the European Championship qualifiers where she also became the youngest player to score a hat-trick in the Euro qualifiers.

At club level, Bugeja stole the headlines when she moved to   Serie A Femminile side Sassuolo and was singled out by UEFA as among the ten most promising players on the continent.

Bowler Sue Abela and swimmer Sasha Gatt were the other contenders in this category.

The women’s national team were the winners of the Team of the Year after a record-breaking European Championship campaign which saw them collect a record tally of points on their way to placing fourth in the group, their highest finish in a qualifying campaign.

Last year’s winners, Elusive II (sailing) and the Luxol Futsal Club were the other finalists.

Mangia completed a successful night for the Malta Football Association after he was named as the Coach of the Year award.

The Italian mentor enjoyed an impressive start at the helm of the national team as he led the team to second place in the UEFA Nations League with a record nine points. Under his charge, the team is currently on a record seven-match unbeaten run.

Jesmond Caruana, the weightlifting coach, and San Ġiljan ASC coach Dorian Pisani were also in the running for this honour.

Richard Schulteis was rewarded for an impressive run of results in the international sailing scene when he was named as the Young Sportsman of the Year award.

Last year, Schulteis struck gold at the Fraglia Della Vela Riva regatta, which was held in Lake Garda, apart from also topping the standings in the Euro Cup a few weeks earlier.

The other finalists in this class were squash player Kijan Sultana and tenpin bowler Kayden Laganà.

Joseph Muscat, of the Malta Basketball Association, was named as the Official of the Year.

Tenishia Thornton was named as the Young Sportswoman of the Year after she became the first Maltese weightlifter to win medals in the IWF Youth World Championships.

Thornton took the silver medal in the snatch category and bronze in the overall 49kg class. During 2020, Thornton bagged an impressive 175 national records while bagging three gold medals in the National Championships.

On her way to the title, Thornton managed to outpoint Bugeja and young gymnast Tara Vella Clark.

Pavilion revamp

The award for Official of the Year went to Malta Basketball Association general secretary Joseph Muscat.

In 2020, Muscat was the mastermind behind the revamp of the Ta’ Qali, Pavilion. In fact, he designed the new facilities and continuously monitored works.

He was also instrumental in the technological investment carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic were matches were being streamed live on association’s social media.

THE WINNERS

Sportsman of the Year: Dejan Grech (Eight Ball Pool).

Sportswoman of the Year: Haley Bugeja (Football).

Male Sports Youth of the Year: Richard Schulteis (Sailing).

Female Sports Youth of the Year: Tenishia Thornton (Weightlifting).

Team of the Year: Malta women national team (Football).

Coach of the Year: Devis Mangia (Football).

Sports Official of the Year: Joseph Muscat (Basketball).

International Sports Event of the Year: Eight Ball Pool European Championships.

People’s Choice Award: Mark Marlow (president Malta Employees Sport Association).

Special Olympics Male Athlete Award: Mark Serge (Ten Pin Bowling)

Special Olympics Female Athlete Award: Klara Zammit (Open Water Swimming).

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