An entertaining night of athletics in Turin, which was attended by the IAAF President Lamine Diack and by FIDAL (Italian Federation) President Franco Arese, produced some notable results like Veronica Campbell’s 22.35 in the 200 metres and Marian Oprea’s 17.37m in the Triple Jump.
200m meet record of Ottey beaten
Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell, 200m and 4x100m Olympic champion, highlighted the Memorial Primo Nebiolo - IAAF Grand Prix II - producing the third fastest time in the world this year behind Allyson Felix and Lawryn Williams, who are currently ranked first and second with 22.14 and 22.27. The 23-year-old Jamaican star had run a previous season best of 22.53 in Kingston on 7 May.
With her Turin GP 22.35 win Campbell, who is unbeaten in the 200 metres since 2000, collected her twenty-seventh consecutive win. It was also a new meeting record for Campbell who beat Merlene Ottey’s 22.75 set in 1995.
“Technically it was a very good race. Since the Olympic Games I have trained harder than in the past because the expectations are higher. After this race I fly back to the USA to compete in the 100 metres in New York on 11 June and then in the Jamaican Trials in Kingston.”
“I have not decided whether to tackle both the 100 and the 200 metres at the World Championships in Helsinki. In the past I felt I was more a 200 metres sprinter but now I think that I am strong over both distances,” said Veronica Campbell, a marketing student at the University of Arkansas.
Asked during the pre-event press conference how she feels when she is compared to Merlene Ottey, Campbell said: “To be compared to Merlene is wonderful because she has always been my idol.”
Season's Best for Oprea
Marian Oprea leapt to a solid 17.37m in the Triple Jump taking his second Grand Prix win of the season after Doha where he won with 17.09m. Oprea took the lead from the beginning with 17.32m and improved in his second jump with 17.37m, setting his seasonal best.
Konstantinos Zalagitis of Greece jumped over 17 metres with 17.17m in his fourth attempt beating Olympic bronze medallist Danila Burkenya (17.04). Emanuele Sardano of Italy set a new PB of 16.82m for third.
“I am very pleased. Normally I start my season slowly, so it is a great beginning. I want to continue improving competition after competition and possibly approach my PB of 17.63 but more importantly I hope to remain injury-free,” said a delighted Oprea.
Former college basketball player Joshua Johnson of the USA ran 20.35 (a new meeting record) to win the 200 metres in the ninth fastest time in the world this year. On Johnson’s shoulders Brian Dzingai of Zimbabwe finished second with 20.48.
“The crowd pumped me. I ran my best time this year although I don’t think that I ran my best race. One reason for my good result is that I am now guided by Dennis Mitchell who is one of the best coaches in the world,” said Johnson.
Ukrainians grab wins in High Jump and 3000m
Andrey Sokolovsky of Ukraine, fifth at the Olympic Games in Athens, jumped 2.30 in his third attempt after clearing both 2.23 and 2.26 at the first try. The Ukrainian chose to skip 2.32 and 2.34 to try three attempts at 2.35 which would have earned him the meeting record but failed.
Nicola Ciotti cleared 2.26 in his second attempt before failing three tries at 2.28. World outdoor champion Jaques Freitag had to content with third place with 2.23 cleared in his third attempt.
It was a great night for Ukrainian athletics which claimed a second win thanks to Sergyi Lebid in the 3000 metres. The five-time European Cross Country champion played his waiting game in the first laps staying in the pack before launching his devastating kick to win in 7:42.94 over the Kenyans Paul Bitok (7:43.67) and Robert Sigei Kipnetich (7:43.97).
“This year I am guided by a new coach and I changed my training plans. I will go to St. Moritz tomorrow where I am planning to stay one month before the National Championships. I will run the 5000 metres at the Rome Golden Gala before the World Championships,” said Lebid.
Jones upsets Kallur sister in sprint Hurdles
The women’s 100 metres Hurdles produced one of the major upsets of the Turin Memorial Primo Nebiolo. Pre-meeting favourite Susanna Kallur of Sweden, European indoor champion in the 60 metres Hurdles in Madrid and second fastest in the world this year with 12.65 set in the Hengelo Grand Prix on Sunday, was beaten to the finish-line by US Lolo Jones who took first place in 12.83, five hundredths of a second better than the young Swedish star. Third was Susanna’s twin sister Jenny Kallur with 13.01.
“I had a terrible start. I was never very focused today, so this performance is disappointing. I will compete on 14 June in Gothenburg,” commented Susanna Kallur.
USA’s Sandra Glover took the women’s 400 metres Hurdles in 54.40, setting her second fastest time of the year after her 54.01 of Atlanta last 14 May. Glover’s 54.40 is the fourth best performance of the season. The clash with Olympic silver medallist Ionela Tirlea Manolache of Romania did not materialize as the Romanian pulled out a few metres after the start. South Africa’s Surita Febbraio finished second in 55.35 beating Andrea Blackett (56.08).
La Mantia take TJ win with no Martinez and no Smith
Italian Triple Jump star Magdelin Martinez was forced to pull out of the meeting because of a minor knee injury. She did not want to take any risk two weeks before the European Cup in Florence. Fortunately for Italian athletics the future of this discipline looks bright thanks to Simona La Mantia who took her second IAAF Grand Prix win in just five days with 14.28 after her 14.31 in Hengelo.
Another notable absence was that of World season leader Trecia Smith of Jamaica.
“I did not want to force because of some muscle pains,” said La Mantia, who holds the second best performance in the world this year with 14.69 beaten only by Trecia Smith’s 14.91.
“This win is very important although 14.28 is not a great result for me. I am sad that Magdelin did not compete because I know what she is feeling now after some injury problems during the season. She has always given me good advice. Winning two Grand Prix meetings in five days is a great achievement."
"My goals are the European Under-23 Championships in Erfurt and the World Championships in Helsinki. I hope to be invited to some great meetings abroad this summer to be recognized as a world class athlete in other countries. It would be a great experience. Competing in Hengelo was a great chance to get valuable experience as I competed for the first time without the assistance of my coach.”
The Turin night inspired another Italian athlete. Javelin thrower Zahra Bani smashed her PB from 59.10 to an amazing 62.54 to climb into fourth position in the world season list. Bani beat the German specialist Christina Obergföll, who took second spot with 60.27.
Van Zyl and Clarke take one-lap wins
The young South African revelation Louis Van Zyl, World junior champion in Kingston 2002, edged out Olympic bronze medal Naman Keita of France after a very close battle in the finish-line. Van Zyl clocked 48.96, six hundredths of a second faster than the French. Third was Llewellyn Herbert of South Africa in 49.42.
The men’s 400 metres race was a very close contest with the first three athletes in just two hundredths of a second. World Indoor silver medallist Davian Clarke of Jamaica clinched a very narrow win against Al Nagmeldin Abubakr of Sudan (World Youth champion in Sherbrooke 2003 and World Junior silver medallist in Grosseto 2004). Both ran the same time with 45.52. Two hundredths of a second behind was Eric Milazar of Mauritius who took third spot with 45.54.
Brazil clinched two wins with Osmar Dos Santos in the 800 metres and Mateus Inocencio in the 110 Hurdles.
Dos Santos, World Championships finalist in Paris 2003, grabbed the 800 metres men in 1:45.36 beating Kenya’s William Yampoi, runner-up in 1:45.59 and Alfred Kirwa Yego, third in 1:45.85.
Mateus Inocencio, Olympic finalist in Athens, won the 110 Hurdles in 13.46 over Jamaica’s Maurice Wignall (bronze at the World Indoor Championships in Budapest), second with 13.51 and Italian record holder Andrea Giaconi (13.68).
The high-level women’s Discus Throw with three Olympic finalists featured the win of Nicoleta Grasu of Romania with 64.89 over Vera Pospisilova of Czech Republic (64.69) and Olena Antonova (62.27).
Jamaica’s Patrick Jarrett, a training partner of 100 metres Olympic champion Justin Gatlin, took his second win in just two days after crossing the finish-line first in Milan on Wednesday.
Rose Jepchumba took the 3000 metres women in 8:59.87 in a race valid as a selection for a berth in the Italian team for the European Cup in Florence. Silvia Weissteiner, a surprising fifth placer at the European Indoor in the 3000 metres, booked her spot in the national squad thanks to her second place in 9:09.66.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF