Paris, FranceElisabetta “Betty” Perrone,the World bronze medallist in Edmonton, will lead a good Italian women’s 20km Race Walking team at the 9th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Paris 2003 Saint-Denis (21 – 31 August).
Unfortunately the 2002 World Cup winner Erica Alfridi, who was sidelined by recurrent injury problems, and the 1997 World champion Annarita Sidoti, who took a year off from big competitions, will miss the World Championships. Their places are admirably filled by Elisa Rigaudo, 2001 European U23 champion in Amsterdam, and Rossella Giordano, fifth at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the 10km.
Perrone is one of the favourites for a spot in the medal podium in the French capital after a successful season marked out by a win in Rio Major (Portugal) in the second leg of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge last April, and then a second place finish behind 1996 Olympic champion Yelena Nikolayeva at the European Cup in Cheboksary (Russia), which led to Italy’s victory in the women’s team competition.
“My season has been successful so far. I hope that a good result in Paris can be the icing on the cake and make my year perfect. I had the chance to test my form in high-quality competitions in the IAAF Race Walking Challenge.”
In the past we walkers had very few chances to compete against the Russians, Kaersty Plätzer and Gillian O’Sullivan apart from at the big events. It is tougher to prepare for more high-profile competitions than in the past but at the same time it is stimulating to compete against the best in the world more times in the course of the year. The introduction of this challenge has also contributed to promote our discipline”, said Perrone.
Perrone was born in Camburzano, near Vercelli on 9 July 1968 but lives in Florence. Her greatest results are the Olympic silver medal at Atlanta 1996 in the 10km, the World silver in Gothenburg 1995, and the bronze at the Worlds in Edmonton in the 20km.
In Sydney she was in the lead on the path to an Olympic gold when she was disqualified with only 3 km to go.
Formerly coached by Sandro Damilano, brother of the 1987 and 1991 World champion Maurizio, she is now guided by Gianni Perricelli, a silver medallist in the 50 km at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg.
“After many years I needed to change something in my training schedule. I would like to thank Gianni for the psychological support he gave me during the whole year. He has always believed in my possibilities.”
Italy boasts a strong tradition in the Race Walking events with a total of 35 medals collected in the history of the Olympic Games, the World and European Championships between 1920 and 2002. Names like Ugo Frigerio, Giuseppe Dordoni, Abdon Pamich and Maurizio Damilano belong to the ‘who’s who’ of this discipline.
Perrone will try to live up to the italian tradition in the French capital on Sunday morning (24 Aug) at 9.30.
“I am in good shape, as indicated by my tests. I broke the national record in the 5 km on the track with 20:12.41 at the recent Italian Championships in Rieti. I worked very well at Sestriere at 2000 metres of altitude, so I am confident, although the battle against Nikolayeva, Ivanova and O’Sullivan will be very tough.“