Monica Contrafatto provided the big talking point at the Ancona 2019 World Para Athletics Winter Challenge with a stunning defeat of world and Paralympic champion Martina Caironi on Saturday.
The Italian’s victory over 60m not only marked her first defeat of her great rival, it also meant a new T63 national indoor record for the 38-year-old world silver medallist, who crossed the line in 9.47 seconds, with Caironi in second place 0.06 seconds behind.
"I am over the moon with this result,” said Contrafatto, who was inspired to take up Para athletics after watching Caironi win 100m T42 gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Contrafatto was in hospital undergoing rehabilitation after losing her leg while serving in the Italian army in 2012 when she watched Caironi sprint home to Paralympic gold.
“After so many years and so many sacrifices, I can say that hard work has paid off. These events help me achieve better performances and today's result is just a starter,” she added.
“Now I want to keep my head down to get the best possible form for the World Championships in Dubai (in November)."
After the 60m on Saturday, Caironi was back in action a day later, this time in the long jump.
The 29-year-old looked to have put her earlier defeat behind her as she leapt to a new Italian record of 4.64m. In fact, all six jumps went beyond her previous indoor best of 4.50m.
World champion Arjola Dedaj, competing for the first time since the birth of her first child last September, came within five centimetres of her Italian indoor record in the women’s long jump T11 with a best of 4.40m.
Also back in action was former world champion Oxana Corso, who notched up wins in both the 60m and 200m T35. The 23-year-old took 0.16 seconds off her previous national record in the longer sprint with a time of 34.14 seconds.
Breakthrough wins for youth
In the men’s track events, young Para athletes Riccardo Bagaini and Marco Cicchetti both impressed.
European 200m T47 bronze medallist Bagaini, 18, was first across the line in the men’s 60m and 200m T44/46/64, clocking 7.47 and 24.16 respectively. T44 sprinter and fellow teenager Cicchetti was second in both races, clocking a new national record for his class in the 200m.
Marco Bianchi claimed two wins and two national indoor records in the middle-distance races – the T44 runner clocking 2:14.34 over 800m and 4:29.74 over 1,500m.
European champions Oney Tapia (F11) and Giuseppe Campoccio (F33) were also in action in the field.
Favourites triumph in field
World record holder Tapia claimed a straightforward victory in the discus F11-13/41-46 with a best of 43.52m, which he threw in the first round. The 43-year-old finished top in the shot put too with a final round effort of 12.94m.
Campoccio set a new Italian record in the javelin F33 thanks to his fifth-round effort of 24.93m. The 52-year-old world bronze medallist also took the top spot in the men’s shot put F32-34 (11.53m) and sits top of the world rankings in both events. He completed a hat-trick of wins with victory in the discus F32-33 (26.27m).
Croatia’s Vladimir Gaspar (F41) was the stand out performer in the men’s javelin F11-13/41-46 as he threw a best of 32.90m, while teammate Ivan Katanusic’s discus throw of 60.02m in the F64 class sent him to the top of the world rankings.
Full results from Ancona 2019 can be found online.