Andrew Howe returned to 200m, his first “love” at last night’s 11th Notturna di Milano (9) in a new meeting record of 20.30sec which showed that the former World Junior IAAF 200m and Long Jump champion is back in top shape after two years ravaged by injuries.
Howe ran an impressive bend carving out a huge margin on his rivals and continued to push in the final straight to finish in 20.30, the second fastest time of his career. He has only run faster in the 200 when he won the World Junior title in 20.28 back in 2004. Last night’s result is more impressive considering that Howe eased up in the final metres, raising his hand to celebrate his result.
“The 200 metres is my favourite distance. I will not compete in the Long Jump until I am completely fit. My injury problem is not fully solved yet and it takes one year to return to my best form. In the New Year I will continue to focus on the sprint but I will not abandon the Long Jump,” said Howe.
“Today I saw that I was running well in the bend and I continued to push in the final straight. I expected to run fast but not so fast. I was a bit nervous because there was Marc Schneeberger who had clocked 20.42 and Emanuele Di Gregorio who had run 10.17 in the 100 metres. The priority is to stay healthy and train. I know that I will need to run under 20 seconds to be competitive at world level.”
Schneeberger took ruuner-up place in 20.81 ahead of 4x100 European silver medallist Emanuele Di Gregorio (20.98).
Yenew produces second quickest time of the year
Twenty-year old Almirew Yenew from Ethiopia produced a major upset by winning a super-fast men’s 3000 metres in 7:28.82, the second fastest time in the world this year after his compatriot Tariku Bekele’s 7:28.70 in Rieti.
Yenew, who entered the race with a PB of 7:46.11, beat more famous athletes like 1500m seasonal leader Silas Kiplagat, who clocked 7:39.94 in his first ever race over the distance, eight-time European cross country champion Sergey Lebid, third in 7:40.91 and Olympic 5000 metres bronze medallist Edwin Soi, fourth in 7:42.22. Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champion and Diamond Race winner, finished eleventh in 7:53.22.
Daniele Meucci, European bronze medallist in Barcelona in the 10,000 metres, ran the sixth fastest time in Italian history finishing eighth in 7:43.85, the best Italian clocking for the last 14 years. Stefano La Rosa also improved his PB to 7:45.78.
Semenya bounces back
Caster Semenya, World 800m champion ran her new seasonal best of 1:58.16, making her the equal fifth fastest runner in the world this year, and setting a new meeting record. France’s Hind Dehiba, the Continental Cup winner over 1500 metres and the European silver medallist, was second with 1:58.67.
Semenya’s represented a bounce back after a bad race in Rovereto where she cited fatigue after a hard training session. “I felt very tired in Rovereto. I wanted to run 1:58 today. I am now going home to prepare the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. This is my big goal of the season. I liked competing in Italy. It’s a good country and I want to return next year to compete”, said Semenya. Italy’s Elisa Cusma was involved in a collision at 450 metres after pacemaker Evelina Setowska dropped out and did not finish the race.
Lemaitre - easy win
On a cool night which was far from ideal for sprinting Triple European sprint champion Christophe Lemaitre, this year’s poster-boy of the Notturna di Milano, clocked an easy 10.18 despite a bad start to beat Emanuele Di Gregorio, second in 10.42.
The 20-year-old Frenchman has grabbed the headlines in Italy, the country of origin of his grandparents who came from Northern Italy and met in 1944 in France. “I just wanted to have fun today. My start was bad as usual but it was good to win today. I did not expect to set the French record in Rieti with 9.97 because I felt tired after Barcelona,” said Lemaitre whose parents made the trip to watch the meeting by car from their native town of Aix Les Bains. Tomorrow Lemaitre will travel directly to Annecy to compete at the Decanation before ending his season in Kawasaki next week.
Pole vault tie
German Malte Mohr, World Indoor silver medallist in Doha last March and winner at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Brussels with 5.85, and Giuseppe Gibilisco, the former World champion, tied for first place in the men’s pole vault at 5.70m. Both the German and the Italian opened the competition with a first-time clearance at 5.40 before passing at both 5.50 and 5.55. Mohr and Gibilisco cleared 5.60 at the third attempt and 5.70 at the second time of asking. They made three unsuccessful attempts at 5.80 before choosing to end the competition. There was no jump-off to determine the winner.
Italian record holder Antonietta Di Martino cleared a winning 1.93m on the second attempt to take a easy win in the women’s High Jump. Ukraine’s Vita Styopina finished runner-up with 1.91. It was a good end-of season for Di Martino who cleared 1.97 in Berlin and 1.98 in Brussels, two confidence-boosting results which bounce her back from her elimination in the qualifying round in Barcelona.
Romania’s Adelina Gavrila leapt to a winning 14.19 (+3.1 m/s) to take the win in the women’s Triple Jump ahead of European silver medallist Simona La Mantia (13.95).
New Zealand’s Nick Willis, Olympic silver medallist in Bejing, showed a good return to form with a win in a good quality men’s 1500 metres in 3:35.17 ahead of Spain’s Diego Ruiz (3:35.47) and 2009 World champion Yusuf Saad Kamel (3:35.70). Kenyan John Kinyor edged out Spain’s Antonio Reina in a close sprint into the finish-line in the men’s 800 metres in 1:46.27 to 1:46.39.
Former World champion Amy Mbacke Thiam edged out European Champs fourth placer Libania Grenot in a very close women’s 400 metres in 51.32 to 51.33 sec. Grenot came off the bend in the lead but slowed down in the final metres and was overtaken by Mbacke Thiam. Neri Brenes from Costa Rica, winner at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Brussels, clinched the win in the men’s race in 45.52 beating Italian champion Marco Vistalli, who finished second in 46.21 in the last race of a very successful season during which which he reduced his PB to 45.38.
The women’s 100 metres went to Briton Laura Turner in 11.51 ahead of Italian Martina Giovanetti (11.69).
During a highly entertaining night of athletics at the Napoleonic Arena Civica Gianni Brera Athens Olympic marathon champion Stefano Baldini received an award named in the memory of Candido Cannavò, the late editor-in chef of the famous sport daily Gazzetta dello Sport, who died in February 2009. Cannavò, a keen lover of athletics, was the man who strongly believed in the re-birth of the Notturna di Milano in 1998 after many years of absence. Baldini will end his glorious running career on 9 October at the Giro al Sas road race in Trento.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF