The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
No less than six London Olympic medallists were in the spotlight at the 48th edition of the Palio della Quercia, the oldest Italian meeting.
The meeting commemorated the late Edo Benedetti who founded the local athletics club Quercia Rovereto and created the tradition of the Palio della Quercia. During the long and glorious history of this meeting some of the best-known athletics stars such Pietro Mennea, Roger Kingdom, Samuel Matete, Jonathan Edwards, Irina Privalova, Stacy Dragila, and more recently Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake, have competed in Rovereto.
Four meeting records - Antonina Krivoshapka’s 49.94 in the 400m, Vitezlav Vesely’s 85.66m in the men’s javelin, Mery Kuria’s 4:03.18 in the women’s 1500m and Hayle Ibrahimov’s 13:11.34 in the men’s 5000m - were the highlights of this year’s Palio della Quercia held in warm weather conditions.
Krivoshapka, the fastest woman in the world this year at 49.16 set at the Russian Championships, dipped under 50 seconds to smash the meeting record held by Brazilian Maria Figuereido since 1990 with a hugely impressive 49.94. Krivoshapka started too fast in the Olympic final and faded in the final straight to finish sixth. Here the former World and European bronze medallist chose a more conservative tactic in the final part and finished strongly. Jamaican Christine Day narrowly beat Italian record holder and Olympic semifinalist Libania Grenot in 51.24 in a close finish for second place.
Vesely, the European Javelin champion, who lifted the Samsung Diamond League Trophy last week in Zurich, set the second meeting record with a solid 85.66m in the last round, the only throw over 80 metres. Spiridon Lempesis from Greece went provisionally to the lead with 80.00 in the second round and kept the lead until Vesely’s big throw.
"I struggled with the run-up in the first attempt. It was good for me to win in the final round because it showed that I cannot give up until the final attempt. The win in the Diamond League has a big value because it is not about just one competition but it’s about being consistent during the whole year. It’s a pity that I won every major competition but I finished fourth at the Olympic Games in London. I owe much to my coach Jan Zelezny. I admire him and I glad he started coaching. If he had not started coaching, I would not have been able to throw over 80 metros," said Vesely.
Mery Kuria smashed the women’s 1500m meeting record with 4:03.18, well under the previous record set by 2008 Olympic champion Nancy Lagat who ran 4:04.76 in 2004. Last year’s world champion Jenny Simpson from the USA also dipped under the meeting record by finishing second in 4.04.07.
Another meeting record fell at the end of a highly entertaining meeting in the men’s 5000m where Azerbaijan’s Hayle Ibrahimov won at a canter in a solo effort in 13:11.34, 17 seconds ahead over Andrew Bumbalow (13:28.34) of the U.S. and European 10,000m silver medallist Daniele Meucci (13:28.91).
Lerone Clarke stormed to 10.12 to clinch the men’s 100m continuing the recent Jamaican tradition in the blue-riband race here which was the springboard meeting of big sprint stars like Powell (winner in Rovereto in 10.12) and the "Beast" Yohan Blake who highlighted the 2010 edition of this Italian meeting with 10.06. Calesio Newman of the U.S. edged Zambia’s Gerald Phiri for second 10.16 to 10.20.
Czech Lucia Skrobakova clocked 12.95 to take the win in the women’s 100m Hurdles. Italian Veronica Borsi, World Indoor semifinalist in Istanbul, ran a good race missing her PB by 0.02 with 13.07.
In the men’s 110m Hurdles Maksym Linsha from Belarus beat Italian record holder and Olympic semifinalist Emanuele Abate 13.46 to 13.63.
Ukraine’s Mariya Ryemyen cruised to an 11.20 win over European champion Ivet Lalova (11.27) in the women’s 100m missing Irina Privalova’s meeting record (11.13) set in 1993. Alexandria Anderson of the U.S. took third in 11.29.
Seventeen-year-old Edwin Melly Kiplagat, World Junior bronze medallist in Barcelona 2012, backed up his recent good form by taking the men’s 800m in 1:45.01 edging Denmark’s European silver medallist Andreas Bube (1:45:33). In the post-Olympic weeks Melly ran a couple impressive times, 1:44.32 in the Stockholm Samsung Diamond League meeting and 1:44.36 in Berlin last Sunday in the wake of Mohamed Aman. Italian champion Giordano Benedetti, who hails from Trento not far from Rovereto, ran another good race finishing third in 1:46.29.
Rabah Yusif from Sudan narrowly beat Cuban Omar Cisneros in the men's 400 metres by just 0.01 sec, while Calvin Smith Jr. finished third in 45.65.
World Junior Long Jump and World junior record holder Sergey Morgunov was the only man able to jump over 8 metres with 8.02m in the second round. Morgunov leapt to 8.35m improving Randy Williams’s long standing world junior record which remained unbeaten since 1972. Tyrone Smith from Bermuda leapt to 7.78m ahead of former World Indoor champion Ignisious Gaisah (7.68m) and Olympic triple jump bronze medallist Fabrizio Donato, who jumped 7.66m in a rare appearance in the event before his final Triple Jump competition in Rieti next Sunday.
Slovenian Marija Sestak leapt to 14.10m in the final round of the Triple Jump, but her second best jump of 14.07 would have also been enough to take the win, as second placer Keila Costa from Brazil produced just 14.05 in the final attempt. Twice World and former Olympic champion Tatyana Lebedeva, who won the Palio della Quercia twice in her career, finished third with 13.99m.
Cleopatra Borel from Trinidad and Tobago produced her best release of 18.82m in the final round to take the women’s Shot Put which featured all three European Championships medalists: Nadine Kleinert, Irina Tarasova and Chiara Rosa. Tarasova finished runner-up with 18.33m by just one centimetre over 2008 Olympic silver medallist Natalia Mikhnevich. Rosa finished fourth with 17.85m.
Former world finalist Laverne Spencer from Santa Lucia won a modest women’s High Jump contest with 1.86m. For Dimitriy Starobutsev from Russia, Olympic fourth placer in London, a second-time clearance at 5.46m was enough to win the men’s Pole Vault.