Palio, among past, present, and future
The Rovereto athletic meeting is the oldest Track&Field event in Italy and one of the oldest in the entire world. Its long history starts with the inauguration of the Rovereto stadium, for the construction of which the commitment of Edo Benedetti, founder of the Quercia sports club (who was also mayor of Trento for 10 years) was decisive. On Saturday the 3rd of October 1964, the CSI Italian Athletics Championships paved the way for the national meeting of the following year, which hosted the best Italian athletes.
Inauguration of Stadio Quercia
Saturday the 3rd of October 1964: ribbon cutting on the stadium inaugural day. The first track of the Rovereto stadium was in red clay, the same material used for tennis courts.
The first edition
On the 13th of June 1965, Palio Città della Quercia was born.
Nenad Stekić’s marvelous race. Six consecutive jumps over 8 meters.
The Palio longest-running record is the long jump one, held by Nenad Stekić and established in 1978. Almost half a century has passed since that fabulous race of the Serbian athlete; a race that has remained in the athletics records as one of the best series in the long jump history: 8.11 – 8.16 – 8.09 – 8.23 – 8.12 – 8.32 (wind + 1.08).
Pietro and Gabriella, from Moscow to Los Angeles
Pietro Menna after the Olympic gold in Moscow blasted on the Rovereto track, closing “his” 200 meters in 20″07: record! Gabriella Dorio instead won the 3000, setting also the Italian record. Gabriella’s race was wonderful, later Olympic gold medalist in the 1500m in Los Angeles ’84, she managed to win after an exciting head-to-head with the Romanian Maricica Puica, one of the world-stars in middle distance.
Edwin Moses the invincible hurdler
In the 1980s, Edwin Moses was unbeaten for 122 consecutive races in the 400 hurdles. He also won at Palio!
Italy-Canada meeting with an eye on Spain '82
In 1982, the traditional meeting was replaced by the Italy-Canada international women’s meeting, with the participation of some Chinese athletes. It was Sunday the 11th of July: the day of Italy playing in the World Cup final (Italy won, ed.). A big screen was organised in a hurry to allow for watching the game after the competitions. An unforgettable evening, all the Italian athletes ran in the city center, led by Gabriella Dorio wrapped in the Italian flag, and jumped in the Piazza Rosmini fountain.
Evelyne Ashford, from the taxi to the starting blocks
Evelyne Ashford, American sprinter, four times Olympic gold medalist in the 100 meters and in the relay, was to be the Palio star for that edition. Time was getting closer to the start but she could not be found. When the athletes were in front of the stadium standings behind the starting blocks, a taxi arrived. Evelyne got out, put on her racing gear and spikes, ran, and won the 200 in 23”13.
Sir. Sebastian Coe
The current president of World Athletics (formerly IAAF) participated at Palio running the 800 m, winning them in 1’45’97.
Javier Sotomayor stands out among the various “stars” who have walked on the Rovereto track over the years. He won the high jump with an “easy” (for him) 2.30 m. A few days earlier, he had jumped 2.45 in Salamanca (Spain), the current world record.
Fiona May and her record jump
Fiona jumped numerous times in Rovereto. We remember her on the 20th of August 1997, when with a leap of 6.85 m she set the meeting record.
50 years of Palio Città della Quercia
The 50th edition was in memory of Edo Benedetti, creator of the meeting, who has left us not only his legacy of moral values and ideals, but also concrete realities, such as this meeting, created to inaugurate the Rovereto stadium, in the realisation of which he played a decisive role.
Fermi Ogunode against 10 seconds
The Qatariot Fermi Ogunode set the record in the 100 m in 10’’00. The 10-second barrier was not broken, but it was a great show for the Rovereto audience.
Genzebe Dibaba hunting the “mile” record
In 2016, the Palio witnessed a world record attempt by Olympic and World medalist Genzebe Dibaba. The Ethiopian athlete had asked to include the classic English Mile (1609 m) to the Palio program. The elegant Genzebe was soon alone, fighting against time for the two laps, with the audience all standing to support her race. The final time was a breath above the world record: 4.14.30.
From the red clay to the blue rubber: the history of the Stadio Quercia track
The first track in red clay, inaugurated in 1964, was renewed after a few years by the stadium architect Guido Tomasi with the rubkor, a rubber and asphalt mix that rapidly became hard as concrete. In 1979, the great quality leap with the track in SportFlexⓡ, modern rubber, renovated again in 1995 and 2009, with the enlargement to the 8-lines track. In 2019 another transformation, this time with the Regupolⓡ material that today makes the beautiful blue track of Stadio Quercia.
Palio Città della Quercia vs pandemic
It wasn’t easy. In the pandemic’s most critical weeks, cancelling the meeting seemed a painful but necessary choice and we arrived very close to call off due to obstacles of all types. However, the gradual improvement of the infection numbers and the very strong push from FIDAL led us to the decision to not give up. Palio Città della Quercia 2020 was the first important sports event of Trentino after Covid-19. A sign of hope and restart also for Rovereto and Vallagarina!