Schembri, Bonello Spiteri top poll
Table football leaves its mark at presentations night
Andre Schembri yesterday became the second footballer in four years to be declared Malta’s best sportsman of the year for 2010 after winning the journalists’ vote in the annual contest that also saw the woman’s title going to indefatigable triathlete Danica Bonello Spiteri.
The presentations night was held at a packed Mediterranean Conference Centre where a two-hour show was produced by joint organisers, the Għaqda Ġurnalisti Sport and the Kunsill Malti għall-Isport, and transmitted live on TVM.
Among a list of distinguished guests on the night, the spotlight mostly was on Jean Todt, the FIA president who had jetted to Malta earlier in the day.
At the end of the show, the former Ferrari F1 team boss announced the winner of the Sport Malta Award, contested by all 10 finalists, following a special vote that also included the public.
The trophy went to Massimo Cremona who played a major role in the table football national team’s success in the World Championship last year.
The Official of the Year award was a close vote. Honours went to Silvio Catania, also of table football. He beat football referee Esther Azzopardi by three votes in the journalists’ poll.
It seems that subbuteo, as table football is more commonly known, is again making inroads on our islands and the sport made it a memorable double last night as the national side were named Team of the Year.
Those present were welcomed by Bernard Vassallo, the KMI chairman before a series of presentations followed in between a variety programme to entertain the audience.
Vassallo said agreement with the sportswriters association on the organisation of the contest, now in its 50th edition, expires this year but his organisation was ready to propose another similar package and hopes both parties will strike a deal soon.
Schembri follows in the footsteps of Michael Mifsud who was sportsman of the year in 2007. His award, the Benny Pace Trophy, was collected by Eric Schembri, Andre’s father.
This season, Schembri is playing a leading role in Ferencvaros’s drive to push for the Hungarian title. The Malta striker was a protagonist on various occasions also boasting a hat-trick in his repertoire besides a host of man-of-the-match performances.
Shooter William Chetcuti won his seventh title last year but this time round he had to settle for third place behind Cremona.
Bonello Spiteri was third in the previous Sportivi contest but leap-frogged into the highest place on the podium this year thanks to her exploits in triathlon and cycling.
Bonello Spiteri, a doctor by profession, finished third in the amateur world time trial champion-ships and also won her category and fifth place overall at the ITV World Series Triathlon which was held in Madrid last year.
On home ground, Bonello Spiteri helped the national team win the gold medal in the championship for Europe’s small states besides securing other titles in duathlon and the Super Sprint Triathlon.
Basketball player Rebecca Brincat Thoresen, winner of the 2009 title, was runner-up this year and bowling’s Sue Abela third.
Table tennis champion Daniel Bajada got the John Debattista Trophy for the most promising young athlete when topping another poll with swimmer Nikki Muscat finishing second and squash prospect Colette Sultana third.
Among those recognised for their remarkable feats during 2010 were the three climbers who successfully challenged the Everest, Gregory Attard, Marco Cremona and Robert Gatt,and disabled athletes Angele Azzopardi and Claudio Dalli.
Also receiving a merit for their achievements were Kayak for Cancer promoters Dorian Vassallo and Albert Gambina, Athletics Malta for hosting the best event of the year, and veteran marathon runner Alfred Debono.
A direct link was also made with Thomas Cremona, currently in an audacious bid to cross the Atlantic by rowing with his team on board an 11m boat, and special recognitions for sterling contributions to the sport were given to Judge Gino Camilleri and Fr Hillary Tagliaferro.
Sportsman of the year: 1. A. Schembri 257; 2. M. Cremona 234; 3. W. Chetcuti 206; 4. M. Bonello 190; 5. C. Camilleri 148.
Sportswoman of the year: 1. D. Bonello Spiteri 241; 2. R. Brincat Thoresen 234; 3. S. Abela 206; 4. N. Borg Costanzi 181; 5. D. Mangion 173.
Team of the year: 1. Table football 267; 2. Basketball (women) 247; 3. Horse racing 180; 4. Shooting doubles 175; 5. Triathlon 166.
Official of the year: 1. S. Catania 247; 2. E. Azzopardi 244; 3. J. Caruana Curran 236; 4. J. Caruana 211.
Young athlete of the year: 1. D. Bajada 234; 2. N. Muscat 223; 3. C. Sultana 203; 4. M. Sammut 202; 5. J. Saywell 173.
Sport Malta Award: Massimo Cremona.