Previews07 Apr 2006

Heshko returns to action - Vigevano 8 Km preview


Ivan Heshko of Ukraine wins the men's 1500m final (© Getty Images)

Ukraine's Ivan Heshko, reigning World and European indoor champion and twice IAAF World Athletics Final champion in the 1500 metres, is the big name of a high-level field at the traditional 8 km Golden Shoe road race in Vigevano which celebrates its 27th edition on Saturday (8 April). Heshko will be challenged by last week's Stramilano Half Marathon winner Paul Kimayo Kimugul from Kenya and Tanzania' s Martin Sulle, runner-up in the famous Milan race.

Heshko will line-up in the fascinating Renaissance Piazza Ducale in Vigevano one month after his winning last-lap kick that enabled him to hold off favourite Daniel Komen Kipchirchir in the 1500 metres at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Moscow.

The appearance of Heshko marks a return of a world-class miler to the northern Italian race. It was in spring 1980 that British middle distance legend Sebastian Coe expressed his desire to run a road race in Italy in the first week of April to test his shape before starting his Olympic campaign in that magical summer when he would race to 1500m Olympic gold in Moscow. A group of Italian athletics enthusiasts led by the late journalist Dante Merlo and his son Gianni, now the athletics correspondent for the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport and Chairman of the IAAF Press Commission, assembled a road race in Vigevano the day after Easter that year enabling the British star to fulfil his desire to compete in Italy. Coe won the first edition of the Golden Shoe and doubled this feat three years later. The Italian race also inspired Coe's arch-rival Steve Ovett, who won the event in 1981 and 1985.

This weekend’s edition also features a rematch of last weekend’s Stramilano duel between Kimugul and Sulle.

Kimugul, who spends most of the year in the northern Italian town of Domodossola and is coached by former Italian marathon runner Severino Bernardini, bounced back from a minor leg injury to win the Stramilano in 1:00:49 ahead of 2004 world Half Marathon bronze medallist Martin Sulle and Olympic Marathon champion Stefano Baldini.

Kimugul won the Berlin Half Marathon in spring 2005 and some months later set a PB of 1:00:15 in the event when he finished third in Rotterdam last September. More recently Kimugul finished runner-up in the Paris Half Marathon in 1:00:50. After the Stramilano he announced his plan to act as pacemaker in the star-studded London Marathon on 23 April.

Italians Daniele Caimmi and Gabriele De Nard will also compete on the tough Vigevano course. Caimmi has recently returned to his best form, finishing runner-up in the Rome Marathon in a confidence-boosting 2:09:30 after being sidelined by two years of injuries.

De Nard, Italian cross country champion in Lanciano on 19 March and winner of the Italian cross country Grand Prix, finished 33rd in the World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka but was sixth among European athletes, a good result as he looks ahead to next December's European Cross Country Championships in San Giorgio su Legnano.

 Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF

Pages related to this article