Phyllis Francis breaking the 400m meeting record in Lignano (© Paolo Sant/Andrea Almacolle/Benedetta Biscaro (organisers))
US 400m sprinters Phyllis Francis and Josephus Lyles were in the spotlight at the International Meeting Sport e Solidarietà in the Italian seaside resort of Lignano Sabbiadoro on Wednesday (12).
Francis, who last year won Olympic 4x400m gold and finished fifth in the individual 400m in Rio, broke the meeting record with her winning time of 50.86, just 0.9 short of the PB she set to finish second at the recent US Championships.
“I feel good about this race,” said Francis. “I hope to run faster and win a medal in London.”
Compatriot Jessica Beard won the B race with 51.42 ahead of Jamaica’s world U20 bronze medallist Junelle Bromfield (52.26).
Josephus Lyles held off World Championships qualifier Will London II by 0.03 in a close men’s 400m, setting a PB of 45.42. Lyles took silver and bronze medals in the 400m and 200m respectively at the 2015 World U18 Championships and is the younger brother of world U20 100m champion Noah Lyles.
Ahead of his appearance in his specialist event at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat, Botswana’s 2012 Olympic 800m silver medallist Nijel Amos opted to test his speed by running the 400min Lignano and set a personal best of 45.50.
Olympic 4x100m champion English Gardner edged out Brazil’s Rosangela Santos in a close women’s 100m as both were given the same time of 11.21. Isiah Young, who this year has clocked 9.97 in the 100m and 20.14 in the 200m, won the men’s 100m in 10.18 into a headwind of -0.5m/s.
USA’s 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper Nelson clinched the women’s 100m hurdles in 13.00 into a headwind of -1.0m/s.
In a 400m hurdles race dedicated to Italy’s 1948 Olympic finalist Ottavio Missoni, Haron Koech and Michael Tinsley crossed the line in unison, stopping the clock at 49.54 with Koech being awarded the victory. Italian champion Lorenzo Vergani prevailed over last year’s Lignano winner Mario Lambrughi in 49.83.
Qatar’s Jamal Hairane overtook last year’s Lignano winner Jacob Rozani and Italian Giordano Benedetti in a close men’s 800m in 1:46.84. Lauren Johnson edged Australia’s Brittnay McGowan by 0.03 to win the women’s race in 2:01.74. Kenya dominated both 1500m races with Jonathan Kiplimo Sawe taking the men’s race in 3:36:80 and Selah Businei winning the women’s in 4:07.93.
The Lignano meeting has been a springboard for future world and Olympic champions such as Elaine Thompson, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Wayde Van Niekerk. Although she wasn’t competing, Thompson acted as the ambassador of this year’s meeting, held on the track where she trains during the summer season. The double Olympic champion won in Lignano in 2014 and 2015 and equalled Fraser-Pryce’s meeting record of 11.11 two years ago.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF