“It is a great emotion. Being able to compete on your home field doesn't happen every day. I look forward to being able to express myself in front of the Florentine and Italian fans”. Larissa Iapichino will shine among the stars of the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea in 'her' Florence. The twenty-year-old Italian athlete of the Fiamme Gialle team, wonderful silver medallist at the European indoor championships in Istanbul, is the star of the press conference in the Tuscan capital, in the Pegaso Hall of Palazzo Strozzi Sacrati, on the occasion of the launch of the Golden Gala on 2 June. Twenty-four months after last Florentine edition, again on Ridolfi's stage, a different Larissa will be seen: "In these two years I've had to fight against myself and I've come out of it very well - she says - it was a difficult journey at times but exciting, a path that made me grow a lot. And finding myself here competing against these girls is a great incentive and an honor, I can't wait to get involved with such high-level opponents. Some of them I have the pleasure of being able to call friends…”. She will jump with Mihambo, Vuleta, Sawyers, Brume, Bekh-Romanchuk, all the best athletes in the world, a substantial preview of the Budapest 2023 World Athletics Championships. Before the Golden Gala, two races await her, one on sprint and another on the long jump: “I will make my debut on 13 or 14 May in a sprint race over a distance to be defined, 100 or 200 meters, at the Arezzo Club Championships. And then the first race in the long jump will be on May 24th in Kallithea, near Athens, and it will be a good test before Florence”.
To make everyone feel at home, the president of the Tuscany Region Eugenio Giani: "We contributed the highest amount we can make available, 150 thousand euros - president's says - we were very keen to host the Golden Gala again for three reasons: the first is that it's Ridolfi's 20th birthday, and for me it's an important anniversary, I lived the construction of the stadium as city councilor in '99, inaugurated for the 2003 European Cup with Fiona May and Sebastian Coe. The second is that Italian athletics enjoys great prestige right now. The third is that Ridolfi brings good luck: the last edition in Florence took place a few months before the Tokyo Olympics, and we know how the Games went...". From President Giani also two proposals: “We will promote a Tuscany Meeting that will remain permanently in Florence. And before the Golden Gala, we would be delighted to be able to confer honorary citizenship on World Athletics President Sebastian Coe." Who, as announced by FIDAL president Stefano Mei, will be present in Florence during the meeting, as will the newly re-elected president of European Athletics Dobromir Karamarinov.
“Florence is somehow the home of athletics - Mei's statement - we have chosen it again to show the world the beauty of this city, the ability of local clubs and how beautiful it is to do athletics in this area. After the extraordinary show two years ago, this year the Municipality and the Region have made themselves available with even greater enthusiasm and we thank them warmly. Our last two seasons have been a success: this mandate has invested 3 million more in technical sector, we have won 29 medals including 13 gold, and Europe has realised that we are working well too. At the Golden Gala we will put on a show worthy of the moment we are going through". The city councillor for sport, Cosimo Guccione, is also satisfied and confident: “Florence is betting a lot on athletics, we are working on the redevelopment of all city's facilities and the Golden Gala aims to involve the whole city. I think there couldn't have been a better party for Ridolfi's 20th birthday".
To reveal other names of a star-studded cast (in addition to the women long jump, today Holloway in the 110hs, Knighton in the 200m and Kovacs in the shot put were announced) is the meeting director Marco Sicari: “An extraordinary evening is being created; so far, we have received many requests for participation from Olympic and World champions, and the full line-up will be finalised around mid of May. On the Italian athletes’ front, we are coordinating with the technical management to have the best athletes: in the meantime, we are in Tuscany, and we have to mention the participation of Larissa Iapichino, Samuele Ceccarelli and Leonardo Fabbri. We actually feel at home here and are able to work at our best, the Ridolfi is one of the best athletics stadium in Europe, it has the right dimensions. Our thanks goes to Atletica Firenze Marathon for the synergy on the organizational side, and to RaiSport, with the director Marco Franzelli, who directly takes care of athletics. Tickets are still on sale, we count on a ‘sold out’, it would be the first time at the Ridolfi. Furthermore, I can announce that World Athletics and European Athletics, in collaboration with Aips, will organize a full immersion dedicated to 20 young journalists from all over Europe in the week of the Golden Gala to experience 3 days of technical sports training on athletics".