Big PB for Rakia Al-Gassra in Milan (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News 2 July 2008 – Milan, Italy

Al-Gassra, Di Martino provide the highlights in Milan

Milan, ItalyThe Notturna di Milano International meeting celebrated its return in a hot and humid night after two years absence from the international calender with some surprising results like the 11.12 sprint win by Bahrain’s Rakia Al-Gassra in the women’s 100 metres and some encouraging results by Italian athletes like the 1.97m winning clearance by Antonietta Di Martino in the women’s High Jump.

Al-Gassra, the 2006 Asian Games 200m champion, who powered to a sensational wind aided 22.45 sec win at that distance in Tunisia last weekend, produced one of the highlights in the Milan Arena Civica sprinting to a sensational national record 11.12 in the women’s 100 metres. The 25-year-old produced a particularly an impressive final 40 metres beating Vida Anim, who finished second in 11.29. 

Italian sprint hope Vincenza Calì, who helped the Italian 4x100m Relay to a surprising 43.04 national record at the European Cup in Annecy, broke her own PB with 11.35, a confidence booster after many years of injuries.
Al Gassra, a university student of Business, has prepared this season with a training camp in Formia, Italy. Her previous national record was the 11.27 she ran on 19 May in Amman, Jordan.

“I set my record. It’s a good result for me because it was my first 100 metres race of the season. The 200 metres sprint race is my favourite event,” said Al Gassra who is tentatively scheduled to run the 200 metres at the Golden League meeting in Rome on 11 July.

World High Jump silver medallist Antonietta Di Martino, who cleared 2.03 in the Milan Arena Civica last year, cleared a confidence boosting 1.97 which is a new season’s best. Di Martino won on countback over Russian Viktoriya Klyugina thanks to a clean sheet until 1.97. The Italian star tried three attempts at 2 metres.

“Last year went differently from this year. I am improving gradually. I am peaking my form and I feel that I jumped much better than in Annecy where I jumped 1.95. I am confident and I hope to get my best in Bejing. I fought very hard to fulfil my Olympic dream,” said a smiling Di Martino. 

Deresse Mekonnen from Ethiopia, reigning World Indoor champion from Valencia 2008, won a good-quality men’s 1500 metres race in 3:34.02.

Young 400 metres hope Martyn Rooney and last year’s world silver medallist Nicola Sanders scored a double win in the one-lap race for Great Britain, Rooney, the winner at the European Cup in Annecy, continued his successful season with a 45.44 clocking mantaining his run of form.

Nicola Sanders, who like Rooney won in Annecy,  won in 50.86 in her second seasonal race after being sidelined by a series of knee injuries.

Fresh Italian record holder Libania Grenot, who broke the national record running the 400 metres in 51.05 last weekend at the Top Club Challenge in Florence, confirmed her potential by finishing runner-up in 51.16 ahead of this year’s African champion and 49.83 performer Amantle Montsho (51.23).

Italian fans enjoyed a very good race by their national 800 metres hope Elisa Cusma who engaged a neck-to-neck race against Briton Jemma Simpson in the final straight. Simpson prevailed over Cusma in a very close race in the final metres with 1:59.17, a new seasonal best. Cusma, daughter of  former European boxing champion Lucio Cusma, also ran the fastest race of the year clocking 1:59.22. As in the 400 metres the 800 metres also featured a double by British athletes. British hope Michael Rimmer took a convincing win in the men’s two-lap race in 1:46.10.

In a very good night for British athletics Simeon Williamson, last year’s European under 23 champion in Debrecen, won a very narrow 100 metres in 10.27 edging out Italian Jaques Riparelli (10.28) and French record holder Ronald Pognon (10.28).

Russian pole vaulter Anastasia Shvedova vaulted 4.65 in her first clearance to beat compatriot Yuliya Golubchikova (winner in the European Cup in Annecy) by five centimetres.

In the absence of Tatyana Lebedeva, the women’s Triple Jump featured a win by Italian record holder Magdelin Martinez who leapt to 14.33 which was enough to beat her fellow former Cuban Yamilé Aldama, now representing Sudan, who ended up in second place with 14.22. 

Nevit Yanit from Turkey won the women’s 100 metres hurdles in a solid 12.79 beating former world indoor champion Derval O’Rourke from Ireland who finished second in 12.93. Yanit cam close to her own national record missing it by just three hundredths of a second.

The men’s 5000 metres went to  Qatar’s James Kwalia in 13:11.36 over kenyans Jonathan Komen (13:02.02) and Alex Oleitiptit (13:12.18) and ethiopian Abebe Dinkessa (13:12.22).  

Reigning 20 km Olympic champion Ivano Brugnetti celebrated the birth of his second daughter Federica with a convincing gun-to-tape win over the shorter 5 km distance which opened the Notturna meeting. Brugnetti led from the early stages of the race pulling away from double 50 km world bronze medal Alex Schwazer clocking a convincing 19:07.74 in one of his last tests before the Bejing Olympic Games where he will defend his Olympic title won in Athens.

“I will stay at home to prepare the Olympic Games to get used to the hot weather conditions I will find in Bejing.”

Andy Turner from Great Britain, European bronze medallist in Gothenburg 2006, took the win in the men’s 110m Hurdles in 13.68

Irina Tarasova from Russia finished first in the women’s shot put with 18.45 beating crowd favourite Assunta Legnante (18.22).

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF