Emanuele Abate en route to another Italian record in Turin (Giancarlo Colombo/FIDAL) © Copyright
It was billed as a preview of the European Championships in Helsinki as it featured the continent’s best hurdlers of the year: 2009 European junior silver medallist Sergey Shubenkov, who set the Russian record last week with 13.18 in Herouville (France), Garfield Darien (PB 13.24 set last week in Geneva) and Emanuele Abate, who set the Italian record clocking 13.32 in Montgeron.
They finished exactly in the same order in Turin. Shubenkov won with 13.21 missing his record by just 0.03. Darien tied the time clocked in Geneva with 13.24 to take second place ahead of Abate who broke the Italian record for the second time in one month with 13.28.
Abate was delighted with his record which backs up his recent improvement. "I did not start well but I caught up with my rivals in the final part of the race. There were not ideal conditions as it rained a bit. I think that I can run 13.20 in better conditions. I dedicate my Italian record to my coach Pietro Astengo. I am consistent and this makes me confident," Abate said.
Lolo Jones of the U.S., twice the World Indoor champion, edged out Yuliya Kondakova in the women’s race in 12.97 after a very busy week in which she competed in Bellinzona, Oslo and in Turin just 24 hours after clocking 12.75 in the Norwegian capital.
"I took the plane from Oslo today. I started very well but at the end of the race I was very tired. I love the Turin track as I made my first breakthrough race in my career in 2005 beating Susanna Kallur," Jones said.
Pavel Maslak, a World Indoor Championships finalist this year, set a new Czech 400m record with 45.18, the fifth fastest time in Europe this year. His previous national record was his recent 45.31 set in Prague at the end of May.
Dwain Chambers, World Indoor bronze medallist, returned to Turin where he won the 2009 European Indoor title aiming to clock the 10.18 A qualifying standard for the Olympic Games on home soil in London. The Briton won the 100m unchallenged in 10.29 ahead of Gambia’s Su Wai Bou Sanneh (10.39). "It was my last race before the British Olympic Trials," he said. "I have enough races to be prepared for the Trials. I prepared well with some of the fastest men in the world in Jamaica."
Another athlete who returned to the Piedmont city three years after winning the European Indoor gold medal was Russian high jumper Ivan Ukhov who came here with high expectations after his 2.37m in Opole (Poland). Tiredness probably took its toll as the 2010 World Indoor champion cleared 2.25m which was enough to win the competition ahead of Italian Filippo Campioli (2.20m) in a competition held in rainy conditions.
Turin is a lucky city for German Ariane Friedrich who won the European Indoor gold here. In the 13th edition of the Memorial Primo Nebiolo she took a confidence-boosting win on countback over World Indoor champion Chaunte Lowe and Svetlana Radzivil from Uzbekistan at 1.92 and tied her seasonal best in her comeback season after undergoing Achilles tendon surgery which sidelined her in 2011. Lowe competed just 24 hours after winning in the Oslo Diamond League meeting with 1.97m.
Egyptian Mohamed Hamada produced a major surprise with his winning 1:44.98 in the men’s 800m. It was a new national record for the Egyptian who won unchallenged ahead of Qatar’s Musaeb Bala (1:46.12).
Cuban-born Yusneysi Santiusti, who is seeking Italian citizenship, took her second win in a row in Turin in 2:00.93. Santiusti competes for the Assindustria Sport Padova club and trains for most of the year in Kenya with Janeth Jepkosgei under the guidance of Italian coach Claudio Berardelli. She recently improved her PB to 1:58.53 in Hengelo and ran a couple of good races in the Diamond League in Doha and Rome where she dipped under two minutes.
"Unfortunately I cannot compete at the Olympic Games in London as I am still seeking Italian citizenship. For this reason I take every race I run as my Olympic Games. I am sad that I cannot run in London but I find motivation from my love for athletics," said Santiusti.
The men’s 5000m win went to Kenyan Ezekiel Meli (a runner based in Italy) in 13:22.90.
European indoor Triple Jump Indoor champion and European Outdoor silver Simona La Mantia had a difficult start to her season but she was inspired by the magic atmosphere of the Nebiolo Stadium to take an encouraging win with 14.29 which qualifies for the European Championships. The jumper from Palermo missed the Olympic A qualifying standard by one centimetre. Russian Viktoriya Valyukevich took runner-up spot with 14.14m.
German Christina Schwanitz came very close to 19 metres to win the women’s Shot Put with 18.99. She would have won the competition with all her valid attempts, as Italian Chiara Rosa produced a best attempt of 18.06 to take second place. There was huge support for former Italian record holder and 2007 European Indoor champion Assunta Legnante who has been suffering from glaucoma. Removal of a cataract in her left eye left her blind since 2009, reaching complete blindness. She is now pursuing a new career as a Paralympic athlete and recently qualified for the London Paralympics. In Turin she set a new World record in her category with 15.22m.
Young Italian sprinter Davide Manenti, European Under 23 champion with the 4x100m Relay, improved his 200m PB to 20.76 and qualified for the European Championships in Helsinki. Diego Marani also dipped under his previous PB to 20.85.
Local favourite Martina Amidei set her PB of 11.42 in the national women’s 100m race and qualified for the European Championships. Audrey Alloh, an Italian sprinter born in Ivory Coast, also set her lifetime best with 11.46.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF