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Battocletti wins second Italian gold in 5000m thriller

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Nadia Battocletti won a thrilling women’s 5000m in championship record of 14:35.29 to send the Italian crowd into raptures to close the first day’s action at the Roma 2024 European Athletics Championships just a few hours after Antonella Palmisano opened the Italian medal tally with gold in the 20km race walk.

European U23 champion three years ago, Battocletti announced her golden arrival on the senior stage in earnest with a brilliantly executed race.

 

Searing pace set by Grovdal

As expected, Norway’s highly experienced 33-year-old Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal took the race to her younger opponents. The long-time leader set a searing pace and by 3000m had whittled the lead pack down to eight, with Battocletti tracking her every move.

With three laps to go the lead group had fallen to five with European Indoor 3000m champion Hanna Klein, Italy’s Federica Del Buono and Portugal’s Mariana Machado all dropping off. Then with 500m to go, Grovdal put in another kick and Spain’s Marta García, the Netherlands’ Maureen Koster and Finland’s Nathalie Blomqvist were unable to match her.

But Battocletti stuck to her task, covering the Norwegian’s every move. Grovdal tried again to lose the Italian with 300m to go, but she was not to be denied. And with the crowd growing ever louder, she pulled clear as they entered the closing straight and sprinted to gold.

The gritty Grovdal took silver in 14:38.62. She is a three-times gold medallist at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships, but has yet to win gold on the track in a storied career, winning bronze in the 10,000m (Amsterdam 2016) and 3000m steeplechase (Berlin 2018).

For Battocletti though, it was sweet revenge, having settled for silver behind Grovdal at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Brussels in December.

National records in chase for bronze

In a close sprint for bronze, Garcia grabbed the medal with a new Spanish national record of 14:44.04. Fourth was Koster in a personal best of 14:44:46 and fifth in another national best of 14:44.72 was Finland’s Blomqvist.

But the night belonged to Battocletti. "It was a tough race, it was not easy for me to maintain that pace but in the last two laps I felt that I had the opportunity to take something very important. I went through some physical troubles in the last month and I was not too confident to get this medal but all the friends of mine and all the Italian supporter gave me a lot of energy into the stadium," said Battocletti.

"This is a gold medal for everyone who believe in somewhat. It is a gold medal for my father and coach Giuliano: his experience as former athlete guarantees me a lot of perfect tips and suggestion. He suggested me to wait until the last metres before overtaking Grovdal: I did exactly this and it worked."

Grovdal: "I really wanted that gold"

Grovdal was philosophical in the aftermath. “My goal was to try to take the gold and I did all I could,” she said. “Of course, it is bitter-sweet when you do all the race and she is just behind you all the time. And of course, she was strong in the end and that is fair. 

“I did not want to have a slow race and then just to sprint in the last lap - that is not ideal race for me, so I decided to stay in the front and do a progression run. I tried everything and than it is OK, but I really wanted that gold.

“I remember when I ran sub 15 for the first time in my career and that was on this stadium when I was like 23 or 24 and that was a huge race for me to break that barrier. So, it is nice to be back on this stadium.”

Chris Broadbent for European Athletics




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