English Gardner (r) in Rovereto (© Giancarlo Colombo)
Racing for the first time in over a year, English Gardner returned to action with an 11.02 victory in the women’s 100m at the 54th edition of the Palio della Quercia in Rovereto on Thursday (23), Italy’s oldest meeting.
Gardner, a gold medallist in the 4x100m relay at the 2016 Olympic Games, equalled the meeting record set two years ago by Jamaica’s Christania Williams. The 2016 US champion and Rio Olympic finalist beat world and Olympic finalist Michelle Lee Ahye and European 4x100m gold medallist Imani Lansiquot from Great Britain who clocked 11.23 and 11.24, respectively.
“I expected to run faster but I am glad I had the opportunity to compete here,” said Gardner, who last raced in July 2017 before she was sidelined by injury. A year earlier, Gardner clocked 10.74 to win the US title, equaling Merlene Ottey as the seventh fastest woman in history.
The women’s 800m race featured the European gold and silver medallists Nataliya Prishchepa of Ukraine and Frenchwoman Renelle Lamote along with European 1500m champion Laura Muir. Lamote prevailed in 1:59.58 beating two-time European champion Prishchepa, who had to settle with third place in 2:00.26 behind Lynsey Sharp (1:59.90).
“It was hard to come back to competitions after the European Championships,” said Lamote. “I was very tired after Berlin. My body needs recovery and this was my last competition of the season.”
Muir finished a distant 11th in 2:04.71.
In the men’s 100m European 100m bronze medallist Jak Ali Harvey of Turkey edged out Michael Rodgers of the US by 0.03 in 10.14. Former 200m world bronze medallist Alonso Edward of Panama was third in 10.21.
In a close 110m hurdles race, Commonwealth champion Ronald Levy held off European gold medallist Pascal Martinot Lagarde of France, both credited with 13.37.
In the most eagerly awaited competition for Italian fans, Ukraine’s Andriy Protsenko won a close high jump competition at 2.26m on countback over African champion Matthew Sawe and 2016 European champion Gianmarco Tamberi.
Protsenko had a clean sheet until 2.20m before clearing 2.23m and 2.26m with his second attempts. Sawe jumped 2.23m and 2.26m with his second tries to beat Tamberi, who needed three attempts to clear 2.26m before missing twice at 2.28m and once at 2.30m.
“I wanted to end my season on a high note with 2.30,” Tamberi said. “I wanted to clear this height for my friends who came from Ancona. I am proud with my fourth place in Berlin, as I was not sure that I could achieve this result. My only regret was that I needed to make an attempt at 2.33m, as 2.31m would not have enough to win a medal.”
In a close 5000m race, this year’s world U20 silver medallist Stanley Waithaka out-kicked Ethiopian Berihu Aregawi 13:15.06 to 13:15.44.
Ethiopia’s Meskerem Mamo set a meeting record in the 3000m, clocking an 8:42.19 lifetime best to hold off Kenya’s Loice Chemmung who clocked 8:43.00.
Paul Dedewo, second at this year’s US Championships, edged 2012 Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos in the 400m, 45.30 to 45.58. In the women’s rae, Aminatou Seyni from Niger pulled off the biggest surprise of the meeting when she took the win in 50.69, smashing her own most recent national record of 51.17 set in Heusden last month. Jaide Stepter of the US was a distant second in 51.84.
Miltiadis Tentoglou, another recently-minted European champion, won the men’s long jump with a fifth round 8.00m (-0.7) leap to beat Jamaican Tajay Gayle by seven centimetres.
European silver medallist Anna Ryzhkova took the win in the women’s 400m hurdles in 55.74 ahead of 2017 European U23 champion Ayomide Folorunso (56.16). Kenya’s Cornelius Tuwei won the men’s 800m in 1:46.02.
Germany’s Christin Hussong won the women’s javelin with a 62.14m effort, her only valid throw of the evening.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF