Genova, ItalyManuela Levorato produced the best result of the Italian Indoor Championships last weekend (21/22 Feb) winning the 60 metres in 7.22 ahead of Nigeria's Endurance Ojokolo.
Levorato ran just three hundredths of a second off the 21 year-old Italian indoor record which was set by Marisa Masullo in 1983. Then on day two of the championships she won the 200 metres unchallenged with 23.54.
The double European 100 and 200 metres bronze medallist is enjoying a successful indoor season after a 2003 summer ruined by a serious tendon injury. She has won two important races on the European winter circuit in Stuttgart (7.26) and Ghent (7.21), in finished fourth in Karlsruhe in 7.24.
"My wins on the circuit were a reward for me after a troubled 2003 and give me confidence for the rest of the season,” said Levorato.
“I am running very well because I have changed something in my starting technique from the blocks and I have certainly benefited from that. I may break the national record in the 60 metres one day, perhaps next week in Lievin.”
“My favourite race for Budapest (World Indoor Championships, 5-7 March) remains the 200 metres but I am a bit cautious about running this distance indoors because the risk of aggravating my tendon problems is high. The longer sprint remains my goal for the summer season where my dream is to reach the Olympic final," concluded a delighted Levorato.
Gibilisco wins national crown with a lowly 5.40m
World outdoor Pole Vault champion Giuseppe Gibilisco, the current indoor season’s leader with 5.82, won the Italian title with 5.40m in his second attempt, a result affected by illness.
“Unfortunately I was ill the night before the competition because of a stomach problem and I was in trouble at the beginning when I failed my first attempt at 5.40. I decided to turn to a stiffer pole to produce a safety vault and secure valuable points for the Fiamme Gialle for the club ranking.”
“Today it was not a day for pursuing records. Now I am planning to train for two weeks before flying directly to Budapest for the World Indoor Championships”, said Gibilisco.
Longo on form
The other Italian star who highlighted the Italian Championships was Gibilisco’s close friend Andrea Longo, who was fifth in the 800 metres final in the World Championships in Paris last summer. Andrea scored a double in the 800 in a very easy 1:48.60 and in the 1500 metres in 3:43.31 after returning from forty-five days of training at altitude in South Africa together with Andrè Bucher, Bram Som and Hezekiel Sepeng.
Over the 1500 metres on the first day of the Italian champs he launched an impressive kick at the bell by pulling away from the 1500m specialist Christian Obrist, crossing the finish line in 3:43.31.
“I worked very hard there in very ideal training conditions and I wanted to test my condition, although I did not prepare specifically for the indoor season,” said Longo. “For this reason I am not planning to compete at the World Indoor Championships in Budapest. I want to be in the best form of my life for this summer Olympic season.”
”I focused my preparation over quantity rather than on speed although my win outdoors last week in Potchefstroom in 1:46.59 indicates that I am in good form. I did not expect to run so well in the 1500 metres which was the second fastest time of my career after the 3:39.42 I ran outdoors in Doha (Qatar) in 2001. However, what really mattered this weekend was to enjoy myself and try something new in my preparation and not pursue fast times ", said Longo.
Italian sprint revelation Simone Collio took his first italian title in the men’s 60 metres in 6.64 just two hundredths of a second faster than Andrea Rabino. The 24-year-old Collio, who was semi-finalist at the World Indoors in Birmingham last year, ran the 60 metres dash in 6.58 in Erfurt on 29 January (three hundredths off theIitalian record set by Pierfrancesco Pavoni in 1990), and finished second in the European Indoor Cup in Leipzig behind the European record holder Jason Gardener.
Martinez skips contest
Magdelin Martinez skipped the Italian championships after her national indoor record with 14.62 in Karlsruhe and her second place in Birmingham with 14.30 behind the World Indoor champion Ashia Hansen.
Despite Martinez's absence the European U-23 silver medallist Simona La Mantia jumped 14.25 twice in the same afternoon to improve her national U-23 indoor record by 9 cm. The 21-year-old athlete from Palermo had already secured her team place for Budapest.
Another notable result came from Elisa Rigaudo (2001 European U-23 champion in the 20 km walk) who won the national race walking title in the 3 km walk in 11:57.00 (third on the italian all-time list). Alessandro Gandellini won the men's 5km race walk race in 18:34.15 ahead of the 1999 World champion Ivano Brugnetti.
Antonella Bevilacqua booked a berth in the Italian squad for Budapest after her win in the women’s High Jump with 1.93. Andrea Bettinelli cleared 2.24 to take the men’s title and then failed his three attemps at 2.28. Nicola Trentin finished first in the men's Long Jump with 7.96.
Fabrizio Donato increased his season’s best to 16.69 in the Triple Jump, four centimetres longer than the distance which earned him the third place in the European Indoor Cup in Leipzig one week ago.
Emiliano Pizzoli produced a surprising win in the 60 metres Hurdles by winning in 7.88 over Andrea Giaconi, who did not manage to match his season’s best of 7.72 which earned him the win in the European Indoor Cup in Leipzig last week.
The women’s Shot Put went to the national indoor record holder Assunta Legnante who produced a 17.85 release on her third attempt, well ahead the Italy’s season’s leader Cristiana Checchi (2004 best 18.44), who was second in Genova with 17.09. Legnante (seasonal best 18.33) and Checchi will represent Italy in Budapest.
Khalidas Al Suwaidi from Qatar, who is currently training in Italy, won the men’s shot put contest with 20.07 but the Italian title went to Paolo Dal Soglio (19.47).
The 3000 metres races featured the wins of the European Indoor Cup third placer Salvatore Vincenti (7:59.39) and Uganda’s Dorcus Inzikuru on the women side with 9:11.75.