Maria Lasitskene in Padova (© Padova organisers)
Four big stars of international athletics commanded the spotlight in one of the best editions of the Padua athletics meeting's 31 year history on Sunday (16).
Allyson Felix, Ekaterini Stefanidi, Laura Muir and Maria Lasitskene were the key attractions at this annual gathering and they didn’t disappoint.
Lasitskene, the reigning world high jump champion, won with 2.00m to beat Pole Kamila Lichwinko, who cleared a season’s best of 1.98m on her second attempt. Lasitskene needed three attempts to clear 1.96m before jumping 1.98m and 2.00m at the first time of asking. She then made three solid attempts at 2.08m, three centimetres higher than Stefka Kostadinova’s meeting record of 2.05m set in 1987 a few days after her world record at the World Championships in Rome.
“I made a lot of jumps and it was psychologically a difficult competition,” Lasitskene said.
Inika McPherson of the US finished third on countback at 1.94m over Italy’s Alessia Trost.
In the pole vault, Olympic and European champion Ekaterini Stefanidi cleared 4.72m on her third attempt to break Yarisley Silva’s meeting record set last year. The Greek star then made three unsuccessful attempts at 4.82. Emily Grove of the US cleared 4.60m to finish second.
“It was a difficult competition, as there was a lot of wind but I really enjoyed the atmosphere in Padua and I am happy with the meeting record,” said Stefanidi, who was making her final appearance before the World Championships.
Felix: 'I'm happy with my last race before London'
Allyson Felix, the current world leader in the 400m with 49.65, capped a highly entertaining meeting with a win in the women’s 200m in 22.80 (-1.0 m/s) ahead of Olympic 400m fifth placer Phyllis Francis (23.10) and European 200m gold medallist Dina Asher Smith (23.15).
“I am training through and for this reason I am happy with my final race before London,” Felix said. “I trained a few days here and I really enjoyed coming to Padua for the first time in my life.”
European indoor 1500m and 3000m champion Laura Muir pulled away before the bell to win the 1500m in 4:05.01. The British record holder missed Amanda Eccleston’s meeting record by 0.13. Alexa Efraimson of the US finished second in 4:06.12.
Juan Miguel Echevarria, an 18-year-old rising star from Cuba, followed up his 8.28m leap in the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Madrid on Friday with a wind-assisted 8.34m (+2.3 m/s) to win the men’s long jump. Great Britain’s Dan Bramble and world junior champion Maykel Massò also jumped beyond eight metres with 8.01m and 8.00m respectively. Italy’s Kevin Ojaku, who jumped 8.20m earlier this year, was fourth with 7.95m.
World indoor silver medallist Ajee Wilson took the women’s 800m in 1:59.19 ahead of Rose Mary Almanza who clocked 1:59.85. Local favourite Yusneysi Santiusti Caballero, a Cuban-born runner who lives and trains in Padua, finished third in 2:00.82 to meet the World Championships qualifying standard.
Jamaican rising star Ronald Levy, winner of the Diamond League in Paris in 13.05, cruised to victory in 110m hurdles in 13.34 (-0.5 m/s) ahead of Spain’s Yidile Contreras, who set his season’s best with 13.61.
In the women’s 100m hurdles, Queen Harrison edged 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper Nelson 12.84 to 12.86 (-0.8 m/s). Alina Talay from Belarus finished third in 13.02.
Taking the lead at the bell, Amel Tuka cruised to his second 800m victory this week in 1:45.61, beating 2013 world champion Mohamed Aman, who clocked a season’s best 1:46.14.
Elsewhere, Bershawn Jackson won the 400m hurdles in 49.62. Haron Koech was even faster in the B race, winning in 49.39. Jamaica’s Aneisha McLaughlin won the 400m in 51.70 and Isiah Young of the US won the 100m in 10.26.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF