Sprint hurdler Kellie Wells of the USA (© Getty Images)
Olympic bronze medallist Kellie Wells was in the spotlight at the 24th edition of the Meeting Sport e Solidarieta in Lignano Sabbiadoro held at the seaside resort in the north-eastern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia on Tuesday (16).
Running into a -1.4m/s wind, the US sprint hurdler cruised to an easy win in the 100m Hurdles in 12.85 ahead of team-mate Loreal Smith who also dipped under 13 seconds with 12.96.
“I love coming to Lignano, the people are very nice,” said Wells, who turned 31 on the day of the competition. “It was my third time running at this meeting. The win was the perfect way to celebrate my birthday.”
US sprinter Shalonda Solomon, the 2004 World junior 200m champion, got off to a flying start in the women’s 100m and pulled away from the rest of the field to take a clear win in 11.15. Solomon backed up her good period of form after finishing second last Saturday at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Madrid in 11.04.
Jamaican sprinter Jacques Harvey was in dominant form in the men’s 100m, winning in 10.11, just 0.04 slower than his personal best set earlier this year.
Another Jamaican win came from Rusheen McDonald, who held off 2011 World youth champion Arman Hall, 45.28 to 45.56. Hall, still a junior, clocked 44.82 at the US Championships in Des Moines last June becoming the ninth-fastest junior 400m runner in history.
US hurdler Omo Osaghae edged his compatriot Ty Akins in a blanket finish in the 110m hurdles, 13.47 to 13.50.
The middle distance races were dominated by US runners. In the 800m, Elijah Greer edged his compatriot Michael Rutt in 1:46.38 to 1:46.77, while Ben Blankenhip won a tight 1500m against Jordan McNamara in 3:37.04.
Heather Kampf came very close to dipping under the two-minute barrier with 2:00.04 to win a close 800m race where fellow US athletes Phoebe Wright and Lea Wallace finished within a stride of Kampf.
In the 1500m, Kate Grace beat Sarah Bowman by 0.30 in 4:07:40 with Sonia Roman of Slovenia taking third place in 4:07.95.
Libania Grenot, European 400m finalist in Barcelona 2010 and Olympic semifinalist in London 2012, easily won an all-Italian 400m race in 51.53 ahead of Mediterranean Games champion Chiara Bazzoni (52.79).
The local crowd who packed the small Teghil stadium welcomed the newly-crowned European under-23 High Jump champion Alessia Trost, who comes from Pordenone, a few miles from Lignano and is an ambassador of this meeting.
Last Saturday in Tampere, Trost cleared 1.98m to win gold, moving to equal third on the Italian all-time list, tied with Antonella Bevilacqua and sitting behind Antonietta Di Martino and Sara Simeoni.
“I did not expect to clear 1.98m especially because I did not start the season very well,” said Trost, who wasn’t competing in Lignano. “Last Saturday I had a lot of adrenaline and I managed to clear 1.98m.”
The other ambassador of the meeting was double Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who took part in a special 50m race with disabled people.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF