Sue Abela named Sportswoman of the Year
Neil Agius stole the limelight during Saturday night’s SportMalta Awards Għażliet Sportivi Nazzjonali after the experienced swimmer was named as the Sportsman of the Year and also landed the People’s Choice award.
Veteran tenpin bowler Sue Abela reclaimed the Sportswoman of the Year award while weightlifter Tenishia Thornton retained the Young Sportswoman accolade with long jump sensation Jeremy Zammit netting the Young Sportsman of the Year gong.
Waterpolo secured a memorable double as Malta’s U-15 national selection was named Team of the Year while their mentor Anthony Farrugia won the Coach of the Year award.
Agius’ success in the annual awards was more than merited after the veteran swimmer caught the headlines in the summer of 2021 when he swam into the world’s record books as he completed an epic non-stop swim from Linosa to Gozo, a record of 125.6km completed in just over 52 hours.
The former Olympian beat the previous world record for the longest continuous, unassisted, current-neutral swim along a single-segment natural route in an ocean, sea or bay, which was set at 124.4 kilometres.
Agius collected the highest number of points in the Sportsman of the Year category that also featured para athlete Thomas Borg, wrestler Gary Giordmaina, waterpolo player Ben Plumpton and long jumper Jeremy Zammit.
On the other hand, the other finalists in the People’s Choice Award were Noel Aquilina (wheelchair basketball), Andy Grech (athletics), Maja Theuma (Paralympics) and Thornton (weightlifting).
Sue Abela’s triumph in the Sportswoman of the Year award was somewhat expected as the veteran bowler enjoyed a memorable 2021 which saw her being crowned as the European champion while also winning a silver and bronze medal in the Mediterranean Championships held in France.
For Abela this was her sixth triumph in the category that also featured Claire Azzopardi (athletics), Mya Azzopardi (swimming), Eleanor Bezzina (shooting) and Yazmin Zammit Stevens (weightlifting).
Tenishia Thornton made it a second win in a row in the young sportswoman of the year award. The young weightlifter crowned 2021 with a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Seniors Championships in Tashskent.
On the other hand, Jeremy Zammit claimed his first success in the Young Sportsman of the Year award. The long jump sensation showed great promise of his potential in 2021 when he placed fifth in the European U-20 Championship and seventh in the World U-20 Championship.
Anthony Farrugia was rewarded for his excellent efforts in steering the junior national teams to fine performances in the LEN European Championships when he was named the Coach of the Year.
Farrugia led the U-15 men’s selection and the U-17 men and female teams to the European Championship finals last year.
There was more success for waterpolo as the U-15 national selection were named Team of the Year Year after they had topped the qualifying group ahead of France and then finished 13th Euro finals in Portugal.
Bernard Vassallo was rewarded for a highly-successful basketball referee career when he was named as the Official of the Year.
Vassallo last year took charge of four matches in the Eurobasket Women in France and was in charge of the final of the FIBA Small Countries Championship in Cyprus.
After his retirement as international referee, Vassallo has now been chosen as a FIBA Referee Observer and has also qualified as a FIBA Commissioner.
Elsewhere, Rebecca Dalli and Jake Gatt were the athletes of the year for Special Olympics while the Aquatic Sports Association of Malta was honoured for hosting the European Junior Artistic Championships in July 2021.
Sportsman of the Year: Neil Agius (swimming).
Sportswoman of the Year: Sue Abela (bowling).
People’s Choice Award: Neil Agius (swimming).
Young Sportsman of the Year: Jeremy Zammit (athletics).
Young Sportswoman of the Year: Tenishia Thornton (weightlifting).
Coach of the Year: Anthony Farrugia (waterpolo).
Official of the year: Bernard Vassallo (basketball).
Team of the Year: U-15 national team (waterpolo).