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Galea, Kuusijarvi win triathlon national sprint titles

The Malta Triathlon Federation closed off its season when it hosted the national championship on the standard distance at the Salina Coast Road.

The race consisted of a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run on the Salina Coast Road.

As anticipated Keith Galea won the race, to seal off his eighth national title, whilst the female winner was Krista Kuusijarvi – a relative newcomer to the local scene.

Galea took the lead from the very start of the race, exiting the water first with a comfortable lead over Josef Azzopardi and Sean Michael Darmanin who completed the 1.5km swim with just a second separating them.

Out on the bike, Galea still dominated the race and kept a safe distance between himself and the other riders vying for a place on the podium.

Places behind Galea started changing, with Steve Ritchie edging past Azzopardi and Darmanin in an attempt to stay close to the front.

Meanwhile, Azzopardi remained close and by the time the three athletes started the run, Ritchie and Azzopardi were close enough to keep everyone guessing as to who would take second place. 

Galea, still ahead of the pack, went on to win the race in two hours seven minutes, and 55 seconds. 

In the final metres of the race, Ritchie dug deeper to finish the race 12 seconds ahead of Azzopardi.

The women’s category was contested by Kuusijarvi and Marquita Muscat.

Kuusijarvi, who emerged on the local scene last year, has given a good account of herself throughout the season and also won gold in the duathlon during the Malta Invitational Games hosted by the Maltese Olympic Committee over the weekend.  

Kuusijarvi took the lead and kept her position in the front throughout the whole race to win her first title. 

The National Championships also coincided with the federation’s participation at the inaugural Invitational Games. Malta’s performance in the multisport events – Aquathlon, Duathlon, and Triathlon yielded a total of ten medals.

Three gold medals were won by Krista Kuusijarvi (Duathlon), Hannah Cutajar (Triathlon) and Maya Schembri Rogers (Aquathlon). Ryan Muscat (Aquathlon), Danica Bonello Spiteri (Duathlon, Aquathlon, Triathlon) secured a silver medal while the three bronze medals were won by Ryan Muscat (Duathlon and Triathlon) and Nick Sammut (Duathlon).

“Last weekend was a successful weekend for Maltese triathletes, particularly on the international scene where they brought home ten medals home,” MTF president Davide Cachia said.

“In terms of the National Championships, there was strong competition in the males’ race but the females’ race participation was disappointing.

“As we conclude the season, we shall now take stock of this year to identify areas of improvement – that are well within our control.

“Race participation and experience are high on our agenda and we will be working with all stakeholders to make the next season a better one.”

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