Elvan Abeylegesse heads Tirunesh Dibaba and Linet Masai in the women's 10,000m in Beijing (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Pescara, Italy

Abeylegesse runs 31:58.98; good day for hosts too - Mediterranean Games, Day 1

The athletics programme of the sixteenth edition of the Mediterranean Games at the Adriatic Stadium in Pescara opened yesterday (30 June) with a great day for host country Italy which scored a fabulous “double-double” of gold and silver medals in the women’s Hammer Throw and the 20km Race Walk. Italy started the first day of competitions on a high note winning nine medals (three gold, three silver and three bronze).

2004 Olympic 20km Race Walk champion Ivano Brugnetti, the biggest star of the 70-athletes strong italian athletics team, won the 20 km race beating in a very close finish this year’s European Cup winner Giorgio Rubino by just one second in 1:22:33 to 1:22:34 after leading for most of the race. The bronze medal went to Spaniard Juan Manuel Molina.

For Brugnetti it was a re-match against his Fiamme Gialle clubmate Rubino who beat him in the 2009 European Cup race where Italy placed three men on the podium.

“I hope to continue this good season until Berlin (2009 World Champs). I have still some work to do. My final test before Berlin will be the Italian Championships in Milan”, said Brugnetti, who will spend three weeks at altitude at Sestriere until 24 July to prepare the World Championships.  

The women’s Hammer Throw, the opening competition of the Mediterranean Games in the renovated Adriatic Stadium in the Central Italian town Pescara, produced a major surprise. Silvia Salis, 23, from Genova, beat Olympic and World finalist Clarissa Claretti with a good 70.39 metres, the only throw over the 70 metres barrier. Claretti went to the lead with 68.20 in the first attempt. Salis came very close in the second attempt with 68.17 but Claretti improved her leading position to 69.35 in the third round. Salis responded to Claretti with 70.39 in the fourth round taking the lead. Salis, who finished third at the Winter Throwing European Cup with her PB of 71.77 in Los Realejos in Spain last March, secured the first major win of her career. Greek Stiliani Papadopoulou finished third with 67.35.

“It is an important medal at international level but technically speaking I could do better today. This result confirms my recent progress in training”, said Salis.

The fabulous opening day for Italy was also highlighted by Fabrizio Schembri, who won the men’s Triple Jump with 17.09m, which confirmed his recent good form in June when he leapt to a new lifetime best of 17.27 at the Memorial Primo Nebiolo in Turin and finished third in the European Team Championships in Leiria.

Greek Dmitrios Tsiamis, who boasts a career best of 17.55 metres, threatened Schembri’s 17.09 in the final attempt with 16.98. Even without injured Fabrizio Donato, Italian triple jump lived up to its good tradition, as Daniele Greco (fourth at last year’s World Junior Championships in Bydszgosz) clinched the bronze medal with a outdoor PB of 16.64 (although he jump 16.83 indoors last winter).

“Today the win mattered more than the technical result. The swirling wind caused me some problems,” said Schembri.

Turkey was the next best team after Italy with two gold medals. Turkish star Elvan Abeylegesse, Olympic 5000 and 10,000 metres silver medallist won the 10,000 metres at a canter in 31:58.98 in a competition which featured only three athletes. Silver medal went to Serbia’s Oliviera Jevtic with 32:23.06.

The big surprise of the day came from Turkish javelin thrower Faith Avan who won with 79.78m.

A new championships record fell in the women’s Pole Vault where Greek Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou vaulted 4.50m. The previous meeting record was held by France’s Vanessa Boslak with 4.40m (2005). Cyprus’ junior pole vaulter Marianna Zachariadi cleared 4.45 for second place, coming very close to the World junior record held by German Silke Spiegelburg with 4.48.
Italian record holder Anna Giordano Bruno took the bronze medal with 4.35.

Cyprus’ good day was crowned by a gold medal in the women’s 200 metres where Eleni Artymata won in 23.16 beating Sabina Veit from Slovenia (23.45) and Vincenza Calì from Italy (23.49).

Amr Ibrahim Seoud from Egypt, who is the reigning World Student Games champion, confirmed his pre-race  favourite status  in the men’s 200 metres with a comfortable win in 20.78, while Olympic and World finalist Jackson Quinonez from Spain notched up the win in the men’s 110 metres Hurdles in 13.60.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF