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Unbeaten Harding seals off debut with Sprint Triathlon title

Lara Buttigieg takes home female crown

Birkirkara St. Joseph Sports Club hosted the final race of the Go & Fun BSJ Sprint Triathlon Series in Salina earlier this month.

The fourth race of the summer doubled up as the Sprint Triathlon National Championships, under the auspices of the Malta Triathlon Federation.

If the past races this year were anything to go by with, then Julian Harding – who made his debut in this sport this summer – was the clear favourite having emerged unbeaten with a National Record under his belt. 

His years of international swimming competition were evident as he effortlessly led the way in the 750m swim and entered into the bike transition with one minute thirty-second gap over Keith Galea. 

Onto the 20km bike segment, Harding continued to widen the gap to gain over a three-minute advantage over Galea. 

Harding proceeded onto the run in the knowledge that a championship title, barring any unforeseen episode, was getting closer.

Harding crossed the finish line after 58 minutes and 55 seconds of racing to win his first National Sprint Triathlon Championship title.

Meanwhile, Galea continued with a strong and steady run determined to make it to the final podium in second place. 

Following him was Jesrit Camilleri, whose strong run enabled him to climb up the ranks and finish in third place.

No major upsets were expected in the female category with Lara Buttigieg being marked as the favourite to win.

Buttigieg was the first female out of the water with Pia Zammit following her ten seconds later.

A slightly faster transition by Zammit saw her narrow the gap as she exited on the bike course.

Nevertheless, Buttigieg maintained her lead throughout and to be the first female finisher, winning the title in the process. 

Meanwhile, Krista Kuusijarvi’s bike performance enabled her to overtake Zammit who had to settle for third place on the winners’ podium. 

Go&Fun BSJ Sprint Triathlon Series Trophies were presented to the winners by club official Joseph Farrugia, whilst the National Championships proceedings were presided by federation president, Dr John Vella.

“This year’s Sprint Triathlon Series proved to be interesting and produced several surprises,” Euchar Camilleri, Birkirkara SJ secretary general, said.

“Julian Harding provided the biggest surprise of the season having reigned supreme throughout. It was good to see a balanced mix of experienced and relatively new triathletes who made our races very interesting.”

Camilleri concluded by thanking all those involved, particularly race sponsors  Go&Fun Green Energy Drink Malta, Transport Malta,  Naxxar Local Council, Birkirkara, and Naxxar Police district offices.

Sprint National Championship results

Men’s category

1. J. Harding 58.55; 2. K. Galea 1:04.18; 3. J. Camilleri 1:05.43

Women’s category

1. Lara Buttigieg 1:08.42; 2. P. Zammit 1:14.38; 3. D. Cortis 1:28.55.

Age Groups

U-23: Sean Michael Darmanin 1:07.08

40-49: Kristjan Briffa 1:09.58

50-59: Kevin Muscat 1:09.37

60+: Nicky Farrugia 1:15.35/Maria Belsten 1:43.26

Overall results

Men

1. J. Harding; 2. J. Camilleri; 3. C. Fenech.

Female

1. P. Zammit; 2. D. Cortis.

Age Groups

U-21: Julian James Asciak

40-49: Andrea Agius

50-59: Kevin Muscat

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