The SportMalta Awards Għażliet Sportivi Nazzjonali will have some familiar faces battling for its main honours this year as the list of finalists were announced by the Għaqda Ġurnalisti Sport yesterday.
Weightlifter Tenishia Thorton and waterpolo coach Anthony Farrugia are again in the running for more success in this year’s gran gala ceremony that will be held on February 25.
As usual, there will be seven categories, with the most prestigious awards being the Sportsman of the Year and the Sportswoman of the Year.
Both categories will have new winners as none of last year’s recipients, swimmer Neil Agius and tenpin bowler Sue Abela, are in the running in this year’s final.
In the Sportsman of the Year award, long jumper Jeremy Zammit, who won the Young Sportsman of the Year last year, is in the running along with waterpolo’s Jake Tanti, Dejan Grech (pool), Kurt Farrugia (para rowing), Clifterty Calleja (horse racing) and judoka Isaac Bezzina.
Thornton, named Young Sportswoman of the Year in 2022, is in the running to not only defend her title but is also in the Sportswoman of the Year final along with Ella Borg (gymnastics), tennis player Francesca Curmi, judoka Katryna Esposito, Janet Richard (athletics) and squash player Colette Sultana.
There is strong competition in the Team of the Year category, as the men’s waterpolo national team, who placed in an historic 14th place at the European Championships were nominated along with football team Ħamrun Spartans, who became the first Maltese club to reach the Play Off round of a UEFA club competition, the waterpolo’s U-16 national team, the men’s blackball doubles team, the U-25 pool national team and the basketball men’s national team.
Waterpolo features also strongly in the coach of the year, with former senior national coach Karl Izzo among the finalists along with his former assistant Anthony Farrugia, women’s football coach Melania Bajada, Mario Bonello (athletics), weightlifting’s Jesmond Caruana and rugby’s Damian Neill.
Young Sportsman of the Year: Luke Bonello (table tennis) Chaylon Castaldi (blackball), Alex Degabriele (tennis), Alec Fenech (waterpolo), Nick Mercieca (para rowing), Nicholas Muscat (tenpin bowler).
Young Sportswoman of the Year: Philippa Busuttil (gymnastics), Kim Camilleri Lagana (weightlifting), Sasha Gatt (swimming), Zea Montfort (artistic swimming), Lijana Sultana (squash), Tenishia Thornton (weightlifting).
Coach of the Year: Melania Bajada (football), Mario Bonello (athletics), Jesmond Caruana (weightlifting), Anthony Farrugia (waterpolo), Karl Izzo (waterpolo), Damian Neill (rugby).
Official of the Year: Peter Balzan (waterpolo), Terry Camilleri (snooker) Alan Grima (handball), Ronnie Spiteri (waterpolo), Anna Vassallo (taekwondo) Rhona Xerri (rugby).
Team of the Year: basketball men’s national team; blackball men’s doubles team, U-25 men’s eight ball pool national team, Ħamrun Spartans (football), waterpolo men’s senior national team, waterpolo U-16 men’s national team.
Sportsman of the Year: Isaac Bezzina (judo), Cliferty Calleja (horse racing), Kurt Farrugia (para rowing), Dejan Grech (eight ball pool) Jake Tanti (waterpolo), Jeremy Zammit (athletics).
Sportswoman of the Year: Ella Borg (gymnastics), Francesca Curmi (tennis), Katryna Esposito (judo), Janet Richard (athletics), Colette Sultana (squash), Tenishia Thornton (weightlifting).
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