06/06/2020   An evening five years ago




It was a day in which we breathed a very particular air.

In the morning a few flashes of rain had cooled the air, but at 18:25 when there were five minutes left for what would have been the race of the year for me, the thermometer marked 21°Celsius and the sun warmed the part of the Cantones that rises slightly towards Avenida da Marina.
Sandro Damilano turned, looking for a chair, nervous.
He had said just before that his two athletes would fight, but those who know him well, like myself, knew that, as a good Juventus fan, his nervousness went a few hours later when there would be the Champions Cup final between Barcelona and Juventus, and we were in Spain with Jordi Estruch and Luis Saladie both from Barcelona.
Shortly before the start of the race, all the athletes silently for a minute with the international jury lined up to pay this little great honor to the one who here on the Cantones today covered with the signs that remembered her, had won twice in 1996 and in 1998, and who had recently left us.
I do not hide it that a tear fell from my eyes and Luis Saladie noticed it and with a smile made me understand that at that moment they were all united with us Italians, both athletes, coaches and judges.
The subsequent applause dissolved this moment of tension as a liberation giving space to the race, the one that Anna Rita Sidoti will have watched from up there.
18:30 - Liu Hong's very fast start speaks volumes about the intentions of the strong Chinese athlete who is followed only by training partner Qieyang Shenjie, but for a short time
18:51:27 - from my judging place near the turning point of Avenida della Marina I have already seen five times pass "Gugu" (Liu) and the "Tibetan" (Qieyang) who now follows her at 27". These have gone mad, I say to myself.
19:12:39 - from afar the voice of the speaker echoes announcing the public that there is the possibility of seeing the world record of 20km women knocked down.
Between "Gugu" and "Tibetan" now, at 10km, the difference is 44".
19:33:41 - the speaker's voice becomes more and more exciting. It seems to listen to a Rossinian crescendo. The gap between the two Chinese is now 1:46. Now only 5km left.
19:54:38 - The London 2012 world record (1:25:02) of Yelena Lashmanova is now part of history.
About twenty minutes later, while I am reaching the finish line, Liu Hong approaches me and asks me to tell my colleagues that she would like a photo with all of them.
And imagine if we hadn't done it.
My friend Luis Saladie also grants me the honor of signing the form for the World Record official together with him, Jordi Estruch and Jean Pierre Dahm.
If this was the way to honor Anna Rita Sidoti, let's face it, there was no better choice.
But where is Sandro Damilano not found? Maurizio says he ran away to get to the game on time.
Poor Sandro, he still does not know that his satisfactions of the day (and what satisfactions!) have ended.
23:00 - "Suso 2" we arrive all the judges, together with Sandro and Maurizio Damilano for our usual dinner based on fish and local "marisco". The China team is already all there.
She, "Gugu", smiles and has a good reason.
She wants to celebrate her night and she's right: a world record is worth much more than all those bottles of white "Albarino Terras Gaudas" that enlivened the evening.
For "Gugu" it's time to go to sleep, for us instead the night is still young.
Someone has to celebrate Barcelona's victory over Juventus.
What an evening guys !
Nicola Maggio








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