29 May, 2018

Golden Gala 2018: The preview event-by event

The head-to-head clashes and the top names of the 38th edition of the Rome Diamond League meeting on 31st May at the Olympic Stadium.

The programme and the stars of the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea, the fourth leg of the IAAF Diamond League, on Thursday 31st May. Once again it will be a great athletics night with the top names of the major international events. A lot of medallists will compete in Rome, including 83 Olympic, world and European gold medallists.

The preview guide event by event:

Women’s discus (17.40)

Golden Gala record: 68.90 Tsvetanka Khristova BUL 1986 – Italian all-comers record: 72.18 Ilke Wyludda GDR 1989

Sandra Perkovic returns to the Olympic Stadium aiming to win for the third time in a row after 2013 and 2015. The Croatian star boasts the longest throws of the new millennium and has won the Diamond League title in her discipline for six years. The Olympic, world and European champion is set to break the meeting record. She will face Cuban Denia Caballero, the only athlete able to beat Perkovic in a global championships event, and her compatriot Yaime Perez

Men’s discus throw (19.20):

Golden Gala record: 68.78 Piotr Malachowski POL 2010 – Italian all-comers record: 70.26m Imrich Bugar CZE 1984

The meeting record holder Piotr Malachowski will return to the Olympic Stadium to defend his record against the assault of Lithuania’s world champion Andrius Gudzius, who leads the 2018 world seasonal list with 69.13m and is looking to take his first win at the Golden Gala. Olympic champions, the German brothers Robert and Christoph Harting, world silver and bronze medallists Daniel Stahl Michael Finley, last year’s winner Robert Urbanek, unpredictable athletes as a drifting mine Ehsan Hadadi, Fedrick Dacres and Lukas Weiishaidinger, who came very close to the 69 metres with 68.98m.

Men’s pole vault (19.30)

Golden Gala record: 5.94m Sergey Bubka URS 1984 – Italian all-comers record: 6.14 Sergey Bubka UKR 1994

Can you ask for more in a competition, which features seven Olympic, world and European gold medallists ? Sam Kendricks is the favourite of a big height clash, where the main outsider is Piotr Lisek. Rio Olympic champion Thiago Braz returns to the Olympic stadium, where he broke the South American record in 2015, one year before winning the Olympic title. The other acrobats in the line-up are German Raphael Holzdeppe (the only jumper, who has already won the Golden Gala), the other Polish vaulter Pavel Wojciechowski, Canadian Shawn Barber and Greek Kostadinos Filippidis

Women’s 400 metres hurdles (20.03):

Golden Gala and Italian all-comers record: 52.82 Lashinda Demus USA 2010

The race will feature a big showdown with Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad and two past winners of the Golden Gala Georganne Moline and Janieve Russell, who will aim at winning her third consecutive race after clinching the recent race in Eugene. There will be a strong European contingent featuring Scotland’s Elidh Doyle, Switzerland’s Lea Sprunger and Italian senior record holder Yadisleidy Pedroso and Italian under 23 record holder and European Under 23 champion Ayomide Folorunso. It’s a non-Diamond League competition, but it is a high quality race.

Women’s high jump (20.10)

Golden Gala meeting record: 2.03 Hestrie Cloete RSA and Yelena Slesarenko RUS – 2.03 Blanka Vlasic CRO and Chaunte Howard Lowe USA 2010 and Maria Lasitskene ANA 2017; Italian all-comers record: 2.09 Stefka Kostadinova BUL 1987

It is going to be a spectacular competition. The world record set at the Rome Olympic Stadium in 1987 is still unbeaten. The 2 metres barrier has been cleared 14 times to win the women’s high jump during the history of this meeting. The favourite is Mariya Kuchina-Lasitskene, who won at the Olympic Stadium last year and went on to win the Diamond Race and the two world titles on British soil outdoors in London and indoors in Birmingham. The high-quality line-up features the other world indoor medallists Vashti Cunningham from the USA and Alessia Trost from Italy, world outdoor silver medallist Yuliya Levchenko, olympic silver medallist Mirela Demireva, and Italian jumper Elena Vallortigara, who cleared 1.95m this year.

Men’s 400 metres hurdles (20.13):

Golden Gala record: Felix Sanchez 47.73 DOM 2002 – Italian all-comers record: 47.13 Edwin Moses USA 1980

A “viking” will compete in Rome. Reigning world champion Larsten Warholm from Norway will make his debut at the Rome Olympic Stadium and on Italian soil after winning the world title in London. It is going to be a high-quality race with the entire world championships podium including former Cuban Yasmani Copello and olympic gold medallist Kerron Clement from the USA, Nicholas Bett, world champion in Beijing, and Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba, who leads the 2018 world seasonal list with 47.57. The outsider is the other US hurdler TJ Holmes, who finished fifth at the 2017 World Championships. It is going to be a showcase for Italian hurdlers Mario Lambrughi, who improved his PB to 48.99, and José Bencosme.


Women’s 3000 metres steeplechase (20.23)

Golden Gala and Italian all-comers record: 9:11.58 Gulnara Galkina RUS 2009

Kenyan Hyvin Kyeng Jepkemei already won in Rome in 2015 before winning the world title in Beijing later that year. She is chasing a second win against reigning world champion Emma Coburn, who starts as the co-favourite. The race will feature 2012 olympic champion Habiba Ghribi, and the other top kenyan runners Celliphine Chepsol, world under 20 record holder, Beatrice Chepkoech, who won the Shanghai Diamond League race, and Purity Kirui. The Golden Gala record is under threat. 

Men’s 800 metres (20.38):

Golden Gala record: 1:42.79 Wilson Kipketer DEN 1999 – Italian all comers Comers: 1:41.01 David Rudisha KEN 2010

It’s going to be an amazing 800 metres race. The kenyan new wave represented by Wycliffe Kinyamal and Kipyegon Bett against talented athletes from all over the world, who won every kind of medal: reigning Rome winner Adam Kscczot, three-time Golden Gala first placer Mohamed Aman, Botswana’s Nijel Aman and Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich. Fresh Commonwealth Games champion Wycliffe Kinyamal, who is aiming to dip under the 1:43 barrier, has the chance to come close to the historic meeting record held by Wilson Kipketer. Italian Giordano Benedetti returns to Rome, where he finished fourth with his personal best of 1:44.67.

Men’s long jump (20.40):

Golden Gala record: 8.61m Dwight Phillips USA 2009 – Italian all-comers record 8.67 Carl Lewis USA 1987

It’s going to be a thrilling competition featuring every kind of medallists from all major competitions. South African Luvo Manyonga and his compatriot Rushwal Samaai, Juan Miguel Echevarria (reigning world indoor champion in Birmingham 2018) and Marquis Dendy (world indoor champion in Portland 2016), olympic champion Jeff Henderson and other top jumpers Cuban Junior Maikel Masso and Australia’s Henry Frayne. Italian top jumper Kevin Ojaku, who won the non-Diamond League long jump competition last year, will have the chance to compete against the best long jumpers in the world.

Women’s 100 metres hurdles (20.53)

Golden Gala record: 12.39 Vera Komisova URS 1980 – Italian all-comers record: 12.34 Ginka Zagorcheva BUL 1987

The race features hurdlers, who have already been cheered on in the past editions of the meeting at the Olympic Stadium: Dawn Harper Nelson, who won four times in front of the Monte Mario Stand and four Diamond League Trophies in her event, Brianna McNeal Rollins, who won in 2014 and Sharika Nelvis, who finished first in 2015, former world champion Danielle Williams from Jamaica, Dutchwoman Nadine Visser, world indoor bronze medallist in Birmingham 2018, and Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan, Commonwealth Games champion in Gold Coast 2018.

Women’s 400 metres (21.07):

Golden Gala record: 49.17 Marita Koch GDR 1986 – Italian all-comers record: 48.60 Marita Koch 1979

One of the event’s new stars for the Rome crowd is 20-year-old Salwa Eid Naser, who won the world silver medal as underdog and high-talented athlete from Barhein and will make her debut on Italian soil. The line-up features many medallists from the most recent international events including Moscow 2013 world bronze medallist Stephanie Ann McPherson and double European champion Libania Grenot, who will take part in her fourth Golden Gala. It’s a non-Diamond League event, but it is a race with a great Italian interest.

Men’s 400 metres (21.16):

Golden Gala record and Italian all-comers record: 43.62 Jeremy Wariner USA 2006

Botswana’s Isaac Makwala has a good memory of the Olympic Stadium, as he finished third with his only sub-45 time of the season two years ago. He returns to Rome as the pre-event favourite after a great start to the season marked by his impressive 44.23 in Shanghai. He will take on US Fred Kerley (43.70), one of the new names for the Golden Gala, the other 400m specialist Baboloki Thebe from Botswana, Qatar’s Abdallelah Haroun, who has already won world indoor and outdoor medals and got off to a good start to his 2018 Diamond League season.

Women’s 200 metres (21.25):

Golden Gala record: 22.19 Marion Jones USA 1999 – Italian all-comers record: 21.74 Silke Moeller GDR 1987

Ivory Coast’s sprint star Marie Josée Ta Lou will be looking to continue the recent tradition of the Golden Gala, where another Ivorian sprinter Murielle Ahouré received the cheers of the Rome fans twice. The 200 metres world silver medallist will face Shericka Jackson, the Jamaican sprinter in the best shape at the moment, a US trio formed by Deajah Stevens, Kira Jefferson and Felicia Brown, and Swiss sprinter Muijinga Kambundji. Italian fans will support Irene Siragusa, World University gold medallist over this distance

Men’s 100 metres (21.35):

Golden Gala record: 9.75 Justin Gatlin USA 2015 – Italian all-comers record: 9.74 Asafa Powell JAM 2007

It is the headline race of the Rome Diamond League meeting. The world silver medallist, 60 metres world indoor champion and record holder Christian Coleman will run his first race on Italian soil and will be looking to avenge his recent defeat against his US fellow countryman Ronnie Baker, who defeated him in Eugene. Italian fans will be left with bated breath for Italian sprinters Filippo Tortu (10.03) and Lamont Jacobs (10.08), who represent the nouvelle vague of Italian sprint and recently ran sensational races in Savona. The line-up also features European record holder Jimmy Vicaut (9.86), South African Akani Simbine, the other US sprinter Isiah Young, Turkey’s world 200 metres champion Ramil Gulyev, Jamaican Julian Forte. There are many reasons to hold breath for 10 seconds or less.

Men’s 1500 metres (21:50):

Golden Gala and Italian all-comers record: 3:26:00 Hicham El Guerrouj MAR 1998

The names Elijah Manangoi (first in Rome in 2016) and Timothy Cheruiyot, world gold and silver medallists in London 2017, are enough to whet the appetite of athletics fans. We add world indoor champion Samuel Tefera to complete a star-studded line-up race, which also features another Golden Gala winner Silas Kiplagat, and Manangoi’s very promising younger brother George Manangoi, who won the world under 18 title and finished second in the first leg of the Diamond League in Doha. The major European interest will be focused on the best British middle distance runners and Yeman Crippa, who will run over a shorter distance after his excellent Italian Under 23 record in the 10000 metres in London.

Men’s 3000 metres steeplechase:

Golden Gala and Italian All-comers record: 7:54.31 Paul Kipsiele Koech KEN 2012

The meeting will end on a high note with a non-Diamond League 3000 metres steeplechase race with a lot of big stars: world and olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto (winner of the last two 3000m steeplechase races at the Olympic Stadium in Rome), the twice Diamond Race winner Jairus Birech, Frenchman Mahiedine Mekhissi, the best European steeplechase runner in the past ten years and winner of two silver and one bronze medals in the past three editions of the Olympic Games.


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