The European Athletics U18 Championships that were originally scheduled for this July in the picturesque Italian city of Rieti have now been postponed until next year but as a partial substitute local athletics fans can watch Europe’s fastest man over one lap of the track last year, Davide Re, go through his paces.
The Raul Guidobaldi Stadium in Rieti – which has a Mondotrack surface manufactured and installed by the European Athletics Green Inspiration Partners Mondo – is where he has started preparing for his assault on the Italian 400m record of 44.77 that he set last June.
Re showed that his run in La Chaux-de-Fonds was no fluke by clocking 44.85 in the World Athletics Championships semi-finals, finishing third and just missing out on a place in the final.
It emphasised his continental dominance as he was the only European under the benchmark of 45 seconds in 2019 and, into the bargain, he got maximum points for his country in the 400m at the European Athletics Team Championships.
“My aim in the 400m is now to get down to 44.50 and also go under the minute in the 500m, the latter would be to honour the memory of Donato Sabia, who passed away a few weeks ago (read here), who held the Italian record for distance,” Re told local media last week.
It is no coincidence that on the European 400m all-time lists that 44.50 is currently exactly the point of entry to the top 10 and that the European best for the 500m, albeit run very rarely, remains in the name of Sabia who ran 1:00.08 in 1984.
“The Italian championships are still on the calendar and there are a series of domestic events planned for later this summer as well. Getting back on track in the last week felt like putting on my spikes for the first time. We have resumed training (on the track) and this makes me particularly happy. The first day was a bit like taking the first baby steps. You have to get used to the track again, it’s very different from a road surface. It was exciting.
“However, I never stopped training. I worked out at home and while we were in quarantine, I trained at home in the yard of my block of flats and I did a lot of gym exercises. Like many athletes, I had some equipment delivered to home. As for running, I went around my yard or I used an exercise bike.
“In fact, I worked out what exercises I could do in my yard based on the space available. I had nothing more than 22 square metres but that was still enough for the gym equipment and to do some and starts.
One of the positives from the lockdown was that I learnt how to use social media more. It is an important means of making us known as sportsmen and telling people what we do. I've always been a reluctant person in this respect but, during the quarantine, I decided to learn to use it a little better. "
Last year, under the guidance of his coach Chiara Milardi, Re really started to fulfil the potential first seen as a teenager just over a decade ago..
“Up to the age of 15, I was more interested in skiing and I some good results, some junior trophies but the truth was I was an early developer and had some physical advantages.” Re still retains his love for skiing, regularly attending competitions as a spectator in the winter and posting photos of himself on skis.
“However, around the age of 16, I could see that athletics, and sprinting, was going to be my world. I made the 400m semi-finals of the World U18 Championships in 2009 (held on home soil in Bressanone) and that was it.”
He also won the 400m bronze medal at the European Youth Olympic Festival later that summer but that was to be his last major championship medal until he won the Mediterranean Games 400m title in 2018.
If the European Athletics Championships had not been unfortunately cancelled this year, Re would have certainly been considered a medal contender and possibly the favourite.
Now Re is looking ahead to next year, whose calendar includes the European Athletics Team Championships in Minsk, and the Dinamo National Olympic Stadium track in the Belarus capital generates fond memories for Re as he was the leading European in The Match 400m last September.