Julian Harding was the star of the show in Salina on Sunday morning when the former national team swimmer competed in his first triathlon race.
Harding was the outright winner after a very solid performance on the coast road. He was the first out of the water, clocking nine minutes 27 seconds before proceeding onto the 20km bike course keeping a comfortable distance ahead of possible podium contenders Kai Azzopardi and Christopher Fenech.
Harding kept the pace to keep the gap to cross the finish line in 58 minutes and 38. That timing enabled Harding to smash the previous course record of 59 minutes 17 seconds, set by Shaun Galea in September 2019.
Second to finish was Kai Azzopardi.
Fourteen-year-old Azzopardi graduated from the Malta Youth Triathlon Academy to compete in his first sprint triathlon race, having previously taken part in the youth categories.
Azzopardi was second out of the water and kept his placing until the very end of the race. In third place was TriGozo athlete Christopher Fenech.
In the females’ category, Lara Buttigieg took the lead in the swim and kept in front of the female’s group till the very end, to finish the race in one hour eight minutes 40 seconds.
Behind Buttigieg was Pia Zammit who clocked a time of one hour 14 minutes and 56 seconds – a substantial improvement over her 2020 season.
In third place was Denise Cortis, who although was the fourth female out of the water she made up for it with a steady bike segment and a determined run.
“It was good to see the triathlon crowd racing again, in spite of a slight delay in the start of the season,” Euchar Camilleri, Birkirkara St Joseph general secretary said.
“We are grateful for the support and assistance shown by the Health Authorities and SportMalta as well as Transport Malta which enabled us to host this event. Heartfelt thanks goes to the police officers from Birkirkara and Naxxar districts as well as the Naxxar Local Council.
“Thank you goes to the athletes who eager to compete followed all the necessary protocols to ensure a safe racing environment.”
The BSJ Sprint Triathlon Series are supported by Go & Fun Energy Drink Malta and held under the auspices of the Malta Triathlon Federation. The next race will take place on Sunday July 18, at 7.30am in Salina.