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Italy pins U23 hopes on Simona La Mantia

[07.07.2005] The Italian Athletic Federation is sending a team of 47 athletes (24 men and 23 women) to the European Athletics Under 23 Championships in Erfurt, Germany on 14-17 July. Their main Gold medal hope is triple jumper Simona La Mantia.

The 22-year-old, who won Silver at the last European Athletics U23 Championships in 2003, currently lies fifth in the 2005 world rankings with a personal best of 14.69m. This year she has suffered only one defeat outdoors, in last week's the Golden League meeting in Paris.

"My performances are much more consistent this season and that gives me hope for the future," said La Mantia, who will compete at tonight's Golden League meeting in Rome and then in Erfurt before focussing on the World Championships in Helsinki.

The Italian champion already has a significant amount of international experience, having been in the Italian team for both the 2003 World Championships and the 2004 Olympics. She also competed in the 2004 World Indoor Championships and this year's European Athletics Indoor Championships in Madrid.

In addition to La Mantia, Italy's other medal hopes are sprinters Vizenza Cali and Koura Kaba Fantoni, hammer thrower Lorenzo Povegliano and European Junior 5000m champion Silvia La Barbera who is entered in the 5000m and 10,000m.