55 and strong: Conquering Ironman Sweden
After overcoming two injury setbacks, Victor Sammut became the oldest Maltese participant to finish Ironman Sweden 2013 at 55 years of age.
It was an Ironman of firsts in Sweden with Portugal’s Pedro Gomes and Great Britain’s Jodie Swallow winning their first Ironman races. It also happened to be the first ever triathlon Victor Sammut, a 55 year old Maltese national, participated in. An experienced marathon runner, Sammut described Ironman Sweden as “something different” and the “toughest triathlon on Earth”.
Just getting to the race was a challenge in itself.
“Registration for the this year’s event started last year, and I applied knowing that I had enough time to train and be ready for the competition,” Sammut explained.
The 55 year old’s bid to finish Ironman Sweden successfully received two nasty blows as he was sidelined by surgeries for a hernia and a knee problem, setting his training regiment back. Sammut was a in a battle to regain his fitness.
On his setbacks, Sammut explained, “I had to stop training for six weeks and as I was recovering I found out that I had to be operated on my knee because of a cartilage problem. This made me postpone training for further four weeks.”
Not one to be deterred by his obstacles, Sammut stuck to the training programmes provided by event organisers and trained every day for four months. He was also aided by his trainer Fabio Spiteri who helped him in his rehab for the surgeries.
“I used to train a lot along with my colleagues, starting with a swim early in the morning at Bahar ic-Caghaq, then doing the cycling part and after continuing with the walking. Since Malta is relatively small, the training had to be done on a smaller scale in comparison to the actual triathlon.”
The hard work and training paid off – Sammut completed the Ironman race with a time of 14:02:49, finishing well within the 16 hour time limit with all his other Maltese compatriots, as well as becoming the oldest Maltese national to finish the race.
Even though he faced a number of obstacles, Sammut still managed to successfully finish the race in 14 hours, 2 minutes, and 49 seconds in the 1452nd position out of 2500 participants to become the oldest Maltese participant to finish the race at 55 years of age. He also finished 27th out of 51 in his age group, which is not too shabby considering all he has been through.
Sammut chalks it all down to hard work and a healthy lifestyle, saying, “hard work pays off. I do not smoke, I do not drink alcohol and I do not do drugs and considering my age I feel that I have accomplished something special.”