The new Italian record set by Cuban-born Libania Grenot in the women’s 400m was in the spotlight at the third day of the Mediterranean Games in Pescara.
Grenot, who married Italian Silvio Scaffetti in September 2006, clocked 50.30sec today (2) smashing her own national record of 50.83 set in the semi-finals of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
This result ranks Grenot fourth in the world seasonal list behind Sanya Richards, Novlene William Mills and Antonina Krivoshapka. “I am without words. I expected to break the italian record but not this time. I am working hard with my coach Riccardo Pisani. I am looking forward to the Golden Gala in Rome, where I will face strong rivals”, said Grenot who will face Sanya Richards, Allyson Felix and Sherika Williams in the Eternal city on 10 July.
Daniela Reina, a 400 metres runner who is also improving a lot in the 800 metres this year, completed the Italian triumph taking the silver medal in 52.34.
Grenot, this year’s European Team Championships winner, was a promising sprinter in Cuba for whom she competed at the World Championships in Helsinki 2005. After her marriage she moved to Casalpalocco near Rome but she gave up running for one year until a friend advised her to return to the track where she met her current coach Riccardo Pisani, who trained 400 metres record holder Andrea Barberi.
Gun to tape win for Cusma
Just a few minutes after Grenot’s success, it was the turn of Elisa Cusma to continue the great day for italian women athletes. Cusma dominated the 800m final from gun to tape taking the lead from the first lap. Cusma, the national indoor record holder with 1:59.25, clocked a solid 1:59.87 a new Games record. Moroccan Halima Hachlaf finished a distant second in 2:00.91.
“I am happy with the medal and the final time. It’s a great period of my life”, said Cusma.
Algerian steps into Morocco's distance running show
Men’s 800 and 1500 metres titles were taken respectively by Amine Laalou from Morocco and Anter Zerguelaine from Algeria. Laalou dominated the two-lap race in 1:46.76 with a strong kick in the final straight, while Zerguelaine beat Mohammed Moustaui and Abdelati Iguider launching his final sprint in a hard-fought men’s 1500 metres for a final 3:37.49.
Jamel Chaatbi, a Moroccan athlete who lives in Northern Italy and competes for the Italian Atletica Bergamo Club, notched up the gold medal in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase in a new Games record and PB of 8:13.11 beating his compatriot Chakir Boujattaqui who clocked 8:13.83.
The great day for Moroccan distance running was completed by the gold medal won by Hicham Bellani in a very slow 29:33.51 in the men’s 10,000 metres.
In a good women’s Triple Jump Anastasia Perra from Greece leapt to a last-round 14.62m to continue the solid tradition of Greek triple jumping. Former European Cup silver Teresa Nzola Meso Ba of France finished second with 14.16.
Former Olympic silver medallist Nicola Vizzoni, sixth in this year’s world seasonal list with 79.74m, won the gold medal in the men’s hammer throw with 75.92 in the opening event of the third day of the athletics programme.
The final round proved to be decisive in the women’s Javelin Throw. Italian Zahra Bani took the lead with 60.65m and seemed to have secured the gold medal but Voisava Lika from Greece produced 60.97 in her final effort and celebrated her win with a sommersault.
The Italian men’s 4x100 relay made up of Maurizio Checcucci, Simone Collio Emanuele Di Gregorio and Fabio Cerutti won the fourth gold of a great day for Italy with 38.82sec. On the women’s side, France (Myriam Soumare, Ayodele Kuesan, Nelly Banco, Emile Gaydu) turned the tables on Italy prevailing 43.79 to 43.86.
Mohammed Khwaja from Libia put his country on the athletics map with his win in the men’s 400 metres in 45.77.
Nevin Yanit took the women’s 100m Hurdles in 13.08 beating Sandra Gomis from France (13.24) and Italian Micol Cattaneo (13.39).
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF