03 June, 2019

Golden Gala 2019: the preview event by event

The head-to-head clashes and the stars of the 39th edition of the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea, the fourth leg of the IAAF Diamond League, on 6th June. The meeting features more than 130 Olympic and world medallists.

The timetable and the stars of the 39th edition of the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea, the fourth leg of the IAAF Diamond League, on Thursday 6th June (7.30-10 pm). It’s going to be another great night of athletics with over 130 olympic and world medallists (indoor or outdoor) and 13 Berlin 2018 European gold medallists. 


Event-by event preview guide


Women’s javelin throw (17.05): 

Golden Gala record and Italian all-comers record: 68.66m Barbora Spotakova CZE 2010 

World record holder Barbora Spotakova returns to the Golden Gala, where she won three times and set the Golden Gala and the Italian all-comers record. She will be bidding to score her fourth win in Rome against the best specialists of this season. All of them will compete in Rome. The line-up features favourite and Asian record holder Lyu Huihui from China and her compatriot Liu Shiying, who both threw over the 65m barrier this year, Tatsyana Khaladovich and Christin Hussong, the winners of the past two editions of the European Championships, the new entry into the world top ten Nikola Ogrodnikova, the heir of Spotakova in Czech Republic. The line- up is completed by Latvia’s Lina Muze, Turkey’s Eda Tugusz, US Kara Winger, Slovenia’s Martina Ratej, and Italian throwers Sara Jemaj and Zahra Bani 


Men’s shot put (18.30) 

Golden Gala record: 21.67m Ulf Timmermann GDR 1986 and 21.67 Chritian Cantwell USA 2010 

The biggest men’s shot put competition ever assembled in Italy with six putters boasting a career best over the 22 metres. The athlete with the best recent form is Poland’s Konrad Bukowieczki, who put 21.70m a few days ago. The young Polish putter was often beaten by his compatriot Michal Haratyk, who won the European title and will compete in Rome. The US team will be represented by world champion Joe Kovacs, Diamond Race winner Darrell Hill and Curtis Jensen. The line-up also features South American record holder Darlan Romani, Nigerian record holder Enekwechi, Jamaican record holder O’Dayne Richards, Canada’s Tim Nedow, world and European indoor bronze medallist Stanek from Czech Republic. Italian shot putter Leonardo Fabbri, who has never competed in such a high level, is set to put over his personal best marks of 20.69m indoor and 20.45m on 26th May. 


Women’s long jump (18.35) 

Golden Gala record: 7.23m Marion Jones USA 1998

The show is guaranteed by the jumps of Brittney Reese, the most successful athlete in history with one Olympic gold medal and four world titles, who will clash against the current best specialists in the world: world and European Indoor champion Ivana Spanovic, Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen, who collected a lot of gold medals in the triple jump and is the only jumper able to win the Diamond League titles in both the long and 

triple jump, European outdoor gold medallist Malaika Mihambo, and other specialists, who reached the podium at major international championships, like Eloyse Lesueur from France, Nastassia Mironchyk Ivanova from Belarus, Maryna Bekh Romanchuk from the Ukraine, Lorraine Ugen and Shara Proctor from Great Britain. The line-up also features world seasonal leader Chantel Malone (British Virgin Islands), Russia’s Yelena Sokolova and Italian multiple champion Laura Strati, who set her PB of 6.72m and jumped her seasonal debut with 6.65m in Vicenza 


Women’s pole vault (19.15)
Golden Gala record: 5.03m Yelena Isinbayeva RUS 2008 

The record line-up could not miss the only two active athletes, who have been able to clear over 5.00 metres, US jumpers Jenn Suhr and Sandi Morris. It’s impossible to predict who will jump higher at the Olympic Stadium. The pre-event favourites are Olympic champion Katerini Stefanidi (who won the past two women’s pole vault competitions at the Rome Olympic Stadium), the other Greek vaulter Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou, US vaulter Katie Nageotte, Russia’s Anzhelika Sidorova, Great Britain’s Holly Bradshaw, Sweden’s Angelica Bengtsson, Switzerland’s Angelica Moser, the Latin American duo formed by Yarisley Silva and Robeilys Peinado, who won the world bronze medal for Venezuela. The Golden Gala record of 5.03m was also world record. The Golden Gala will be a showcase for local star and Italian champion Sonia Malavisi, who cleared a life best of 4.51m, and will compete at the Golden Gala for the four time in her career. 


Men’s 400 metres hurdles (20.03) 

Golden Gala record: 47.48 Abderrahman Samba QAT 2018 

Raj Benjamin makes his debut at the Golden Gala. The US hurdler clocked 47.02 last year with the previous nationality of Antigua and Barbuda. He equalled the 47.02 personal best time and long-standing world record of Ed Moses. The meeting record of 47.48 set by Qatar’s Abderrahmane Samba is tough, but not impossible to beat. In the non-Diamond League race the US star will face his compatriots Kenny Selmon and David Kendziera, Japan’s Takatoshi Abe, and many top European hurdlers Thomas Barr, continental bronze medallist, Estonia’s Rasmus Magi, Poland’s Patryk Dobek and Italy’s José Reynaldo Bencosme (PB 49.22). 


Women’s 400 metres hurdles (20.13)

Golden Gala record: 52.82 Lashinda Demus USA 2010 

The stand-out names in the Rome race are three US hurdles specialists, who won medals at major international events in the past few years. Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad (world seasonal leader with 53.61), reigning world champion Kori Carter and Beijing 2015 silver medallist Shamier Little. The line-up also features two-time Rome winner Janieve Russell from Jamaica, reigning European champion Lea Sprunger, Ukraine’s Anna Ryzhikova, European silver medallist in Berlin, Zuzana Hejnova, two-time world champion and reigning world bronze Zuzana Hejnova from Czech Republic and Canada’s Sage Watson. Ayomide Folorunso, who clocked 55.56 in her seasonal debut in Imola last Sunday, returns to Rome, where she finished fourth with the Italian Under 23 record of 55.16 in the past edition. It’s going to be a great show. 


Men’s High Jump (20.15)

Golden Gala record: 2.41 Mutaz Essa Barshim QAT 2014 

Gianmarco Tamberi comes to Rome as reigning European Indoor champion in Glasgow and promises to entertain the Rome crowd. The line- up features phenomenal athletes, including two Ukrainian 2.40m specialists Bohdan Bondarenko (who cleared 2.42m and won the world title in Moscow 2013) and Andiy Protsenko, world bronze medallist Majd Eddin Ghazal, reigning European outdoor champion Mateusz Przbylko from Germany, Maksim Nedasekau from Belarus, Ilya Ivanyuk from Rusland, US Bryan McBride, Naoto Tobe (Indoor PB 2.35m this year) and Takashi Eto from Japan, Canada’s Django Lovett, and Australia’s Brandon Starc, reigning IAAF Diamond League high jump champion. Bohdan Bondarenko won the last high jump competition at the Rome Olympic Stadium in 2016 with 2.33m. Tamberi finished third with 2.30m thrilling the Rome crowd. 


Men’s 800 metres (20.23)

Golden Gala record: 1:42.79 Wilson Kipketer DEN 1999 

It’s going to be a race against the clock with the goal to improve the world seasonal best of 1:44.29. The stand-out name is world seasonal leader Nijel Amos, who won his first race of the season in Doha and the olympic silver medal in London, last year’s Rome winner Wycliffe Kinyamal from Kenya, 2016 Diamond Trophy winner Ferguson Rotich, Olympic bronze medallist Clayton Murphy from the USA, his compatriots Donavan Brazier and Harun Abda, reigning world indoor champion Adam Kszczot, who won at the Rome Olympic Stadium two years ago, and the other Polish top runner Marcin Lewandowski, reigning European Indoor champion in the 1500m. The line-up is completed by Asian champion Abubakher Abdalla, Canada’s Brandon McBride, Sweden’s Andreas Kramer, European silver medallist. 


Men’s triple jump (20.30)
Golden Gala record: 17.96m Pedro Pablo Pichardo CUB 2015 

Portuguese triple jumper of Cuban origin Pedro Pablo Pichardo returns to Rome, where he thrilled the crowd with the meeting record of 17.96m in 2015. Pichardo will take on former compatriots Jordan Diaz (world under 18 record holder), Andy Diaz, Christian Napoles, Nazim Babayev (reigning European Indoor champion) and Alexis Copello (currently the best triple jumper in his country) from Azerbaijan, African record holder Hugues Fabrice Zhango from Burkina Faso, world seasonal leader Omar Craddock from the USA (17.68m), his compatriots Donald Scott and Chris Benard, China’s Zhu Yaming and Portuguese veteran Nelson Evora, winner of medals at all latitudes including the Olympic gold medal in Beijing 2008 and the world bronze medal in London 2017. 


Women’s 100 metres (20.35)
Golden Gala record: 10.75 Marion Jones 1998 and Kerron Stewart JAM 


Fans in the Rome Olympic Stadium can erupt in joy with a world class women’s 100 metres race, which features European champion and British record holder Dina Asher Smith (10.85), who clocked 22.18 in the 200m in Stockolm, Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, the fourth fastest sprinter in history with 10.70, and Ivory Coast’s Marie Josée Ta Lou, who won the double silver medal in the 100m and 200m in London 2017 and winner in the 200m in Rome last year. The other stars are Olympic 4x100 gold medallist English Gardner, three other US sprinters Aleia Hobbs, Jenna Prandini and Shania Collins, Brazil’s Vitoria Rosa and Equador’s Angela Tenorio. 


Men’s 5000 metres (20.45)

Golden Gala record: 12:46.53 Eliud Kipchoge KEN 2004 

The stand-out names are world under 20 record holder Selemon Barega, who clocked the fourth fastest time in history with 12.43.02, world 10000m silver medallist Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda, and Olympic 10000m silver medallist Paul Tanui. The line-up also features European champion Filip Ingebrigtsen (gold medallist in the 1500 in 2016 and reigning champion in cross country) and European 10000m bronze medallist Yeman Crippa, and other African top runners, like Ethiopians Abadi Hadas and Hagos Gebrihwet. It’s one of the races with the most glorious tradition in the history of the Golden Gala with two world records. The winner of the Golden Gala dipped under the 13 minutes barrier 16 times. The world seasonal best time of 13:04.16 is under threat. 


Women’s 400 metres (21.05) 

Golden Gala record: 49.17 Marita Koch GDR 1986 

Barhein’s gazelle Salwa Eid Naser returns to the Olympic Stadium as reigning winner of last year’s edition and is bidding to win for the second consecutive time. The world silver medallist and Asian record holder will face US specialists Jessica Beard, Courtney Okolo and Kendall Ellis, Jamaican sprinters Shericka Jackson and Stephanie Ann McPherson, and European top-level specialists Justyna Swyety Ersetic from Poland, reigning European champion, Dutchwoman Lisanne De Witte, European bronze medallist in Berlin, and Italy’s Raphaela Lukudo, European Indoor 4x400 bronze medallist in Glasgow and third at the IAAF World Relays in Yokohama. For the crowd it’s going to be a very intense 50-second race. 

Italian athletes competing: Raphaela Lukudo (Esercito)

Women’s 1500 metres (21.15): 

Golden Gala record: 3:56.22 Sifan Hassan NED 2017

It’s going to be a titanic clash between world record holder Genzebe Dibaba and European champion Laura Muir from Scotland, who are the top two finishers at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships. Muir beat Dibaba only once but she has remained unbeaten in the 1500m since the European Championships in Berlin. It’s a fabulous line-up with former world champion and olympic bronze medallist Jenny Simpson (first in Rome in 2015), Ethiopian runners Dawit Seyaum, Alemaz Samuel, Habitam Alemu, Axumawit Embaye and Gudaf Tsegay, this year’s Shanghai winner Rababe Arafi from Morocco and Kenya’s Winny Chebet. 


Men’s 200 metres (21.25)
Golden Gala record: 19.86 Walter Dix USA 1986 

Twenty seconds, or even less of bated breath, then the eyes of the crowd will be on the display. The time could be outstanding, with a sensational cast of athletes. After clocking a wind-assisted 9.97 (+2.4 m/s) in Rieti, Italian 100m record holder Filippo Tortu is chasing a time that can smash his 20.34 PB set in the Rome Olympic Stadium, against 200m world number one sprinter Noah Lyles, who dipped under 19.70 four times in 2018, current world best 400 metres sprinter Michael Norman, who has always been beaten by Lyles in their three head-to-head matches, European champion Ramil Guliyev from Turkey, world bronze medallist Jereem Richards, Colombia’s Bernardo Baloyes, world 4x100 champion Nethaneel Mitchell Blake from Great Britain, Ecuador’s Alex Quinonez and Switzerland’s Alex Wilson. Will the Golden Gala record of 19.86 resist ? Will the Italian all-comers record of 19.82 set by the “Son of the Wind” withstand all assaults ? Will other records be improved by the fabulous 200m race on Thursday 6th June ? The 2019 world lead set by Nigeria’s Oduduru (19.76) and the Italian under 23 record of 20.30 held by Pietro Mennea, the athlete, to whom the meeting is named after. 


Men’s 110 metres hurdles (21.35)
Golden Gala record: 13.01 Allen Johnson USA 1999 

Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov will clash against Cuban native Orlando Ortega from Spain in a men’s 110 race, which is expected to be hot. Both hurdlers are almost even. Ortega leads over Shubenkov 15-14. Shubenkov is looking to draw level in his head-to-head clashes against Ortega and is bidding to win in Rome for the third time in his career after his previous triumphs in 2013 and 2015. Ortega won the Rome meeting in 2016. In 2017 they were beaten by world record holder Merritt. It’s going to be a super clash featuring Auriel Manga from France, world and European bronze medallist, world indoor champion Andy Pozzi, European Indoor champion Milan Trajkovic from Cyprus, Jonathan Cabral from Canada, Gabriel Constantino from Brazil and Italian champion Lorenzo Perini 


3000 metres steeplechase (21.45) 

Golden Gala record: 7:54.31 Paul Kipsiele Koech KEN 2012 

It’s going to be a race dominated by African runners, but it’s not an exclusive African affair. Kenyan runner Benjamin Kigen, revelation in the 2018 season and second placer in Rome last year, returns to the Italian capital. Ethiopia’s Chala Beyo, third last year in Rome, will be also in the race. The high-quality line-up also features other kenyan top runners Barnabas Kipyego, Abraham Kibiwot and Nicholas Bett, Uganda’s Albert Chemutai, reigning European silver medallist Fernando Carro and Ibrahim Ezzaydouni from Spain. Italy will be represented by European bronze medallist Yohanes Chiappinelli and 2015 European Under 23 bronze medallist Osama Zoghlami.