Honours shared at triathlon races
The second and final day of the Mediterranean Friendship Games produced mixed results for Team Malta in their competition with athletes from CONI Sicilia, yesterday.
Events were held in ten different sport but the most-awaited competition yesterday, perhaps, was the triathlon at the Salina Coast Road.
The race was held in a sprint format with triathletes having to complete a 750m swim, a 20km cycle before wrapping up their exertions with a 5km run.
The Maltese and Sicily teams had three members each in their teams with the two best times from each team winning points for the final reckoning.
Both men’s and women’s races turned out to be tight affairs with the visitors taking the early advantage after the swim segment.
In fact, Salvatore Campagna was the first out of the water with Mark Zammit and Keith Galea a few seconds behind. Danica Bonello Spiteri was trailing in third place after the first leg as Federica Cernigliaro and Maria Grazia Prestigiacomo completed a fast swim.
In the bike segment, the Maltese turned the race on its head. Galea stormed into the lead ahead of Campagna and Bonello Spiteri cancelled her deficit to go into the final run slightly ahead of her rivals.
In the end, however, the superior stamina of the Sicilians came to the fore.
Galea was pipped in the final metres by Campagna who won the race in 1:01.42, just five seconds ahead of Galea. Mark Zammit was third in 1:02.13 and Nicola di Fatta fourth (1:14.33).
The same fate befell Bonello Spiteri. The Malta champion lost ground in the 5km run with Cernigliaro crossing the finishing line first in 1:09.48 ahead of Prestigiacomo (1:10.36).
Bonello Spiteri had to settle for third place in 1:11.02 ahead of team-mate Donatelle Callus (1:14.33).
On combined times, the honours were shared as Team Malta (2:04.00) won the men’s title while the women’s event was won by CONI Sicilia (2:20.24).
Emanuel Azzopardi, the Malta Triathlon Association president, was pleased with the efforts of the local triathletes.
“We produced a strong challenge even though our athletes are in the off-season,” Azzopardi remarked.
“Unfortunately these Games came at the wrong time for us as our season ended almost two months ago. Since then, most of our triathletes have been resting and we only got to know about the race in October. That left us with little time to prepare. Had this race been held in September, we could have won both categories.”
In beach volley, the men’s team of Robert Balzan and Paul Vella continued to augment their chances of a place in the Liechtenstein GSSE next year when they won the men’s competition.
Balzan and Vella beat Sicilian duo Franco Torregiano and Enrico Culla 2-0 (23-21, 22-20).
Malta B, Gordon Cachia and Paul Tonna, were beaten 2-1 (21-19, 17-21 14-16) by Sicily in a non-competitive match.
In the girls tournament, Alison Borg and Maria Demicoli lost to Chiara Ferro and Mary Impicciche 2-1 (16-21, 21-13, 15-10). There was still some comfort though as Lindsay Cordina and Maria Demicoli beat Ferro and Impicciche 2-1 (21-14, 17-21, 15-12).
Fencing competitions continued at the Mtarfa Gymnasium.
Again, Sicily showed their prowess in this sport as Pierre Bianchi, Kurt Mifsud and Andre Zahra were edged 45-44 with the more composed visitors clinching a last-gasp victory.
Team B, composed of Kurt Storace, Paul Borg and Marcus Muscat Barone, were also on the receving end of a 45-38 defeat to the Sicilian team.
The official badminton com-petitions were played on Friday but yesterday the two federations agreed to field their players in a friendly singles tournament at the Tarxien school.
Stefan Salomone again had the better of Filippo Speciale 23-21, 21-17 but Mirella Militello evened the outcome for Sicily as she beat Maria Borg 21-16, 21-16 in the women’s final.