Krisztián Pars in Rieti (© Giancarlo Colombo)
The Rieti Meeting 2013, the last IAAF World Challenge meeting of the year, will be a gathering of World and Olympic medallists who will honour the memory of late Italian sprint legend Pietro Mennea.
Much of the attention will fall on the Hammer competitions as they are the final events in both the men’s and women’s IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge.
Both Hammer Throw competitions will be held over two days, with a qualifying round on Saturday afternoon and then the final on Sunday during the main programme of the meeting with the four qualified throwers.
The entire men’s and women’s podium of the World Championships in Moscow will gather in Rieti with Poland’s Pawel Fajdek, Hungary’s 2012 Olympic champion Krisztian Pars and Czech Republic’s Lukas Melich in the men’s competition alongside Russia’s Tatyana Lysenko, Poland’s former World champion and record-holder Anita Wlodarczyk and China’s Zhang Wenxiu in the women’s contest.
Fajdek currently leads the Hammer Throw Challenge standings with an accumulated total of 244.23m from his best three competitions, just ahead of Pars on 244.17m.
Wlodarczyk will be bidding to score a second consecutive win in Rieti after her victory in 2012 and she currently leads the women’s Challenge standings with 233.83m after good wins in the last two weeks in Dubnica and Berlin, ahead of Germany’s second-placed Betty Heidler who has 226.93m.
Montsho looking to make her mark
Amantle Montsho, the first athlete from Botswana to win a World title when she clinched the 400m gold medal in Daegu 2011, tops the list of names over one lap of the track.
Montsho finished second in 49.41 in the defence of her title in Moscow last month but she has gone on to secure an unassailable position in the Diamond Race and leads the world this year with her 49.33 time at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco in July.
Australia’s Sally Pearson, the London 2012 Olympic Games champion and silver medallist in Moscow, will top the bill in the women’s 100m Hurdles.
The track of the Raul Guidobaldi Stadium, the venue of many famous World records by legends like Steve Ovett, Noureddine Morceli, Daniel Komen, Noah Ngeny and Hicham El Guerrouj, will try to live up to its reputation as a temple of middle-distance running.
Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat, the 1500m silver medallist in Daegu 2011 and sixth in Moscow, will pursue a repeat win over his favourite distance in Rieti after taking the honours last year in 3:31.86.
Kiplagat will take on, among others, his compatriot Nixon Chepseba, who finished fourth in Moscow.
Russia’s 2012 Olympic Games High Jump star Anna Chicherova will return to Rieti once again, aiming to avenge her defeat from last year’s edition when she suffered one of her few losses in 2012.
Croatia’s reigning Olympic, World and European Discus champion Sandra Perkovic will also be in action after securing the Diamond Race title in Brussels on Friday night.
Poland’s two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski will be the top name in the men’s Shot Put while the men’s Triple Jump has Cuba’s rising star Pedro Pablo Pichardo, the 2013 World Championships silver medallist and 2012 World junior champion.
The Italian meeting will also commemorate Italian late sprint legend Pietro Mennea, who competed 11 times in Rieti and set a World 300m best of 32.28 in 1979, with a special race over the unusual distance.
To mark the occasion, the Rieti organisers have invited athletics legends Tommie Smith and Alberto Juantorena. In the latter case, Rieti has a special significance as Juantorena ran the last race of his life in this meeting in 1984 with a 45.69 outing in the 400m.
Tommie Smith set a 200m World record with 19.83 in 1968, which stood until Mennea broke it in Mexico City with 19.72 on 12 September 1979.
Mennea’s record will be remembered on 12 September this year during the Mennea Day when a series of 200m races for all ages will be run in more than 50 Italian venues, including Rieti.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF