The Italian Indoor Championships in the brand new indoor arena of Ancona were highlighted by a 14.52m season-opener by Magdelin Martinez in the Triple Jump and a good sprint battle in the men’s 60m won by Simone Collio in 6.63 over his training partner Luca Verdecchia.
Martinez, World bronze medallist in Paris 2003 and Olympic seventh placer, made her seasonal debut in the Triple Jump after a first competitive test in the Long Jump in Glasgow where she leapt to 6.25. The Cuban born Italian won with 14.52 which ranks her second in the world lists behind Adelina Gavrila’s 14.58. After opening with two fouls, Martinez scored 14.29 in her third attempt.
In the first three rounds Martinez was second behind younger rival Simona La Mantia who opened with a notable 14.41m (just four centimetres off her Italian indoor under-23 record set last year during the World Indoor Championships in Budapest) in her opening jump.
Martinez overhauled La Mantia with 14.52 in her fourth jump, and after another foul in round five ended her competition with 14.48m.
“During the week I changed my plans and decided to come here instead of going to the Athens meeting. I think it was a good choice. I am happy with my 14.52 season-opener. I did not feel that the win was in danger when I fouled my first two attempts,” said Martinez.
La Mantia’s 14.41 ranks the 21-year-old from Palermo fourth in the World list. Italy’s best chances to win a medal at the European Championships in Madrid rely on the women’s triple jumpers.
Collio takes sprint title and confirms good shape
The men’s 60 metres clash between Simone Collio, World indoor finalist in Budapest 2004, and Luca Verdecchia lived up to the expectations of Italy's athletics fans after their recent good results in the European meetings.
Collio took the national 60 metres title in 6.63 in a breathtaking photo-finish with his close friend and training partner Verdecchia who clocked the same time. Verdecchia had the best start but Collio edged him out in the finish line.
The 60 metres sprint battle was expected to be the highlight of the national championships as both Italian sprinters are currently fourth in the 2005 European ranking with the same seasonal best of 6.59.
Collio is enjoying a successful indoor season marked by two second places in Moscow in 6.62 and Stuttgart in 6.59, just one hundredth of a second off his personal best set last year in Erfurt and equalled at the Budapest World Indoor Championships. Verdecchia ran his personal best of 6.59 in Rieti and confirmed this result with 6.62 in Tampere last week.
“I suffered from cramps in my legs after my win in the semi-final in 6.60. I was very nervous before the start because I felt the pressure. I have to learn to be more relaxed in the Italian Champs where I start as favourite. I run better in the international meetings where I have nothing to lose. But I am happy with my second 60 metres indoor title,” said Collio.
“Luca Verdecchia is my best friend. We live together in the same home in Rieti and share the same coach Roberto Bonomi. Now I want to compete next week in the Lievin meeting before the European Championships,” concluded Collio.
Rigaudo claims national title
The 2004 IAAF Race Walking Challenge winner Elisa Rigaudo won the 3km race walk in 12:09.57 (the second fastest time in the world this year) with the greatest ease in her last competitive test before flying to Albuquerque where she will prepare for the inaugural leg of the 2005 IAAF Race Walking Challenge in Tijuana.
“The only problem today was to walk over an indoor track with very tight bends because I am not used to them. I did not prepare for this race because I worked more on quantity than on quality. Now my training plan is based on walking as many kilometres as I can to be fit in the summer,” said Rigaudo.
Another much-awaited contest was the men’s High Jump, which has become a parade discipline in Italy after the Italian indoor record of 2.32 (sixth in the 2005 world list) set by the Athens Olympic finalist Alessandro Talotti on 29 January during the international five-nation match in Glasgow.
On the eve of the competition Talotti was forced to drop out of the Italian Championships due to a minor heel injury which should not put at risk his participation at the European Championships in Madrid.
However he was in the infield to support his friend and club-mate Nicola Ciotti who took the honours with a 2.28 clearance in his second attempt. Ciotti failed three attempts at 2.30 (the previous Italian record before Talotti’s 2.32) which would have equalled his indoor PB set in 2002. Second with 2.26 was Andrea Bettinelli (the 2003 Italian outdoor champion with 2.31). The young Filippo Campioli finished third with 2.24.
Italy will be represented in Madrid by Alessandro Talotti, Nicola Ciotti and Andrea Bettinelli.
“Italian fans are now used to 2.30 jumps, so a 2.28 clearance is no longer so remarkable for Italian high jumpers. I think that 2.30 was within my reach today but the competition was too long with so many interruptions. But I am happy because my approach to competitions is different from the past. I do not feel the pressure because I have nothing to prove," said Ciotti.
Alessandro Gandellini took the men's 5km race walk in 19:03.38 ahead of the former 20km World champion Michele Didoni (19:20.00) and the young Italian hope Giorgio Rubino (tenth in the World Junior Championships in Grosseto), who set a new national junior record with 19:26.51.
Longo takes 1500m but is set to compete in 800m in Madrid
Andrea Longo, World championships fifth placer in the 800 metres in Paris 2003, won the 1500 metres in 3:41.79 setting a new indoor personal best over a distance which he runs very sparingly. Longo remained in control of the race on the heels of the 1500 metres specialist Christian Obrist before launching his winning kick after the bell.
Unfortunately, Longo had to drop out of the 800 metres the following day because of a minor foot injury. “This problem does not change my original plan to compete in the 800 metres in Madrid on 24 February and then attack the 1000 metres Italian record (2:18.70 set by Andrea Giocondi in 1999) in Lievin next Saturday.
The 800 metres race in the European Indoor Championships in Madrid is the most important goal for the winter season”, said Longo
“I am very happy with the race although it was difficult to get used again to the very cold Italian weather this week after spending 40 days in Potschefstroom in South Africa."
Legnante takes expected Shot win
Assunta Legnante, European indoor silver medallist in the Shot Put in Vienna 2002 and national record holder both outdoors (18.92) and indoors (19.20), won her fourth national indoor title with 17.96. Legnante goes to the European Indoor Championships in Madrid with a seasonal best of 18.27 which ranks her in fifth position in the 2005 European ranking.
Italy will also be represented in the men's throwing event by Marco Dodoni who won in Ancona with 19.72, not far from his indoor personal best of 19.85 set in Schio at the end of January which secured him the berth for the European Indoors in Madrid.
Margaret Macchiut, who had already booked her spot in the Italian team for the European Championships in Madrid, won the women’s 60 metres Hurdles with 8.14, a new personal best and the third performance in the Italian all-time list. The men’s 60 metres Hurdles title went to the national outdoor record holder Andrea Giaconi in 7.77
Salvatore Morello clinched the win in the men’s Triple Jump with 16.65 which enabled him to overhaul the Italian outdoor record holder Fabrizio Donato, second with 16.57. Other significant results were the women sprint double by Daniela Graglia in the 60 metres (7.42) and the 200 metres (24.15) and the win by Massimiliano Donati in the 200 metres in 21.31.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF