High jumper Alessia Trost made hard work of getting her expected gold medal with a competition littered with failures but eventually the tall, elegant Italian prevailed as the only women to go over 1.91m at the IAAF World Junior Championships on Sunday (15).
"It was not a good competition for me, I needed three attempts at 1.82m, if I had not gone over 1.91m I would have got the bronze medal rather than the gold.
"I was running too fast, the surface didn't suit my style of jumping, I had to concentrate and control my speed and when I did that then I did some good jumps," analysed Trost, echoing the problems sometimes suffered by Croatian high jumping Blanka Vlasic, who she resembles in stature and style.
Seychelles' Lissa Labiche proved to be a rather surprising opponent and achieved a national junior and senior record of 1.88m, with first time clearances at every height until she found 1.91m beyond her, becoming not only her country's first ever medallist but also the first ever finalist at the World Junior Championships.
"I didn't know anything about her (Labiche) and when she cleared 1.88m on her first attempt by a big way, I thought she was going to go higher," said Trost.
Actually Trost and Labiche have met before, at the 2009 IAAF World Youth Championships in Bressanone, where the former could be forgiven for not remembering her.
The Italian took the gold medal on that occasion and became an instant heroine for triumphing on home soil while her African rival crashed out in the qualifying rounds.
This time the difference between them was a lot closer but with victory assured after clearing 1.91m on Sunday, and the threat of Labiche repelled, Trost then had the bar raised to 1.95m in an attempt to qualify for the forthcoming Olympics Games in London, but it proved to be a height too far.
High Jump heritage
Not going to the Olympics means that, just for the moment, she will not get a first-hand look at many of her heroines.
"I look at videos of Blanka for her last three steps but I also like Anna Chicherova and, of course, (Italian record holder) Antonietta d Martino. I am very different physically from her but she has taught me a lot of things, both technically and also given me a lot of other good advice," said the teenager from Perdonone, which is about an hour from Venice in the north-east of Italy.
"And I have to say something about Pordonone, because maybe people will not know where it is, but it's not too big, not too small and I have everything that I could want there. There is an indoor arena where I can train in the winter and an outdoor stadium," she added, providing the perfect public relations for the town where she was born and still lives.
Trost became the first Italian woman to triumph at the IAAF World Junior Championships and not since 2004, when Andrew Howe won this memorable 200m and Long Jump double has the Italian national anthem been played at the event.
"People talk about me being the latest in the line of great Italian women high jumpers, going back to Sara Simeoni who won an Olympic title and set a World record, and then with Antonietta. There is some pressure on me and a lot has been written in Italy, I try not to pay too much attention to it but I certainly felt the pressure sometimes, like before this competition."
To ease the burden of expectation, the pre-event favourite – who leads the 2012 World junior ranking with 1.92m and with the Russian Mariya Kuchina, the best junior in the world for the last two years, having suffered a drop in form this summer – turned to her books on Sunday morning.
"I had brought three books with me, they all have long titles in Italian so perhaps it's better if I don't translate them," added Trost, who is also fluent in Spanish and English and graduated from high school last month with a mark of 88%.
"I read a few pages of the first book and threw it away, it was complex and difficult to concentrate on it. The same thing happened with the second one, but the third was the easiest and I spent a few hours with that to relax."
Trost, whose name stems from her Slovenian ancestors four generations ago, plans to study modern languages at university, probably in nearby Udine, starting in the autumn.
Before then, she plans to extend her rang of events and wants to do some long jumping before the end of the summer.
"I want to go over two metres. I want to be a bit like Chaunté Lowe, mainly a high jumper but someone who can do some good long jumping as well.
"I met Chaunté for the first time when we competed together in Torino last month and she made a big impression on me she's, how can I say, so much fun, always so happy."
However, it was Trost who was making Italian athletics fans happy on Sunday after getting their first gold medal at the World Junior Championships for eight years.