31 May, 2017

Golden Gala: Lemaitre-Tortu, the Gemini sprinters

Christophe Lemaitre and Filippo Tortu have the same astrological data. Both the Savoyard sprinter from Aix les Bains and the sprinter of Sardinian origin from the Brianza area are Gemini, as they were born on 11th June and on 15th June respectively.

They share the same charasterics: open mind, communicativeness, double personality, curiosity, desire for knowing and exploring. When they meet on the track of the Olympic Stadium, they will be close to their birthday. Christophe will turn 27, while Pippo will celebrate his 19th birthday.
It’s an attempt of parallel lives. Lemaitre clocked 10.04 when he had just turned 19, while Tortu ran 10.15, as he has yet to turn 19. Christophe made his breakthrough during his transition from the under 20 to the senior categories, when he clocked 9.97 and 20.16. The day he marked on his life’s agenda is 9th July 2010, when he became the first sprinter of Caucasian origin to dip under the 10 seconds barrier in Valence with 9.98. Marian Woronin and Pietro Mennea came very close to break it clocking respectively in 10.00 and 10.01. In 2011 he climbed to the top of international sprint by improving his personal best times to 9.92 and 19.80. The European records are tough barriers to break. 

They will clash at the Golden Gala on a distance, over which Filippo has run rarely. He clocked an unimportant personal best 20.92, which he could cancel soon. It’s moving that he considers Livio Berruti as his role model. When the Piedmont sprinter ran his masterpiece race by winning the Olympic gold medal and broke two world records in one hour and a half, his father and coach Salvino was not born yet. “How is it possible to resist to the appeal of the Golden Gala ?”, said Pippo after smashing his own Italian Under 20 record by 9 hundredths of a second. Doubling the distance means to run an unknown territory, but it’s worth before facing the school-leaving exam in front of his teachers and not facing the chrono and his rivals. Someone has enjoyed to label the Olympic Stadium race as the race of the future, thinking about the imminent retirement of Usain Bolt. While the Lightning Bolt’s farewell could open new scenarios for the 100 metres, it will offer even more surprising prospects for the 200m. In this sense the Rome race could provide the first answers.

Despite his still teenage look, Lemaitre is the veteran followed by Canadian lightweight André De Grasse from Merkham in Ontario, who has his roots in the island of Trinidad and Tobago, which has contributed to the history of sprint. André, who has a carefully tattooed arm, won three medals at the Olympic Games in Rio. The Olympic silver medal over this distance shares the same personal best of 19.80 with Lemaitre. This year he clocked 20.14 and dipped under 10 in the 100 metres with 9.96 with a slightly illegal wind when he finished fourth in Eugene. 

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