Leading Italian high jumpers aiming for the European Indoor Championships

Elena Vallortigara
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After a breakthrough season in 2018, Elena Vallortigara is turning her attention to the European Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 2019

It is only 115 days until the focus of the track and field world will be on the European Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 2019 from 1-3 March and Italy’s leading high jumpers are already counting down the days.

Elena Vallortigara, Alessia Trost and Gianmarco Tamberi all have the Emirates Arena in their sights as they look to make their own piece of history. 

Never before has an Italian man won high jump gold at the European Indoor Championships and only two Italian women have taken the title: the legendary 1980 Olympic champion Sara Simeoni on four occasions (1977, 1978, 1980, 1981) and Antonietta Di Martino in 2011. 

Vallortigara, 27, was one of Italy’s breakthrough athletes of 2018, clearing a superb 2.02m at the London Diamond League where she pushed two-time world champion Mariya Lasitskene all the way.

She ended the summer second on the world list behind Lasitskene with 2.04m but she had a disappointing time in Berlin where she failed to turn her form into a medal bid, exiting in qualifying with 1.86m on her major championships debut. 

That will surely fuel her drive for glory even more for Glasgow where teammate Trost will also be looking to cement her own reputation. 

“Although I don’t like to talk about expectations, I can’t deny that I expect something from the next European Indoor Championships in Glasgow - what I didn’t get in Berlin. My goals will be two, one following the other,” said Vallortigara.

“I expect to make it through the qualifying round, arriving in Glasgow in good physical and mental shape which will allow me to manage the context positively, foreseeing and reacting to potential difficulties.

“The second goal is to win a medal, and it is the consequence of achieving the first one. I don’t think about reaching a particular height because the important thing will be to jump well and stay focused; I will try to concentrate more on the process rather than the outcome. 

“It will be an important step towards Doha: I need to feel efficient in a championship as much as I felt during this year's meetings. Even the smallest details hindered me in Berlin, but this experience - and the work I've already started - I hope will take me where I want to get.”

Tamberi targeting Glasgow on the road to Doha

The 2019 season culminates with the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha in late September and Tamberi, 26, is hoping to add to his medal collection.

"I would like to win a medal next year. In Glasgow or in Doha? A medal,” said Tamberi, who was the European outdoor champion in Amsterdam in 2016 having also won the world indoor crown in Portland that winter. 

The European glory put him among the favourites for the Olympics a few weeks later but he then suffered his awful ankle injury which forced him out of the Games. 

He has battled back brilliantly - an athlete who is one of the most well-known on the circuit due to his trademark ‘half-shave’ look.

But with his showmanship comes his talent and he ended this summer’s outdoor season eighth on world lists with 2.33m. He just missed a medal at the European Championships in Berlin when he was fourth with 2.28m but finished his season brilliantly with three successive competitions in excess of 2.30m.

Tamberi’s training partner Trost is the most recent Italian woman to make the high jump podium at the European Indoor Championships with her silver medal in Prague 2015 behind her long-time junior rival Lasitskene. 

Now 25, she was the world U20 champion in 2012 and European U23 champion in 2013 and 2015, a background of success which shows she will be a big threat when that countdown clock reaches 1 March.