Elio Papponetti, World Formia Meeting's president (second on the right) poses with the olympic Champions Maurizio Damilano and Sara Simeoni, and with the IAAF’s president Lamine Diack.
35 years of History


THE HISTORY OF 35 FORMIA MEETINGS IN TWO THOUSANDS WORDS - By Vanni Loriga

From Pope to “Zar”, frome Mennea to Sara Simenoni, from Fiasconaro to Juantorena, from Damilano to Cova, from Fava to Ortis, from Andrei to Sidlo, from Kazokievicz to Kostadinova, from Nehemiah to Sotomajor, from Said Aouuita to Di Napoli, from Tilli to Pavoni, from Sabia to Panetta, from De Benedictis to Korzeniowski, to Salce, to Salvador and going on in a third of century greatest and human athletics.
The “World Fromia Meeting” (present denomination) in born on the 7th May 1967 with the name of “Formia City Cup”. Elio Papponetti (then in the Guardia di Finanza and responsible of Formia section of Rome Cus) founded the meeting making compete Tunisian, FFGG and Rome Cus athletes, whom were in collegiate training in Formia School.
The budget is two hundred thousands Italian Lire, for cups, rewards, medals and cotillon.At once an Italian record: Urlando throws the hammer at 62.28 metres. We’ll see again on 22nd May 1968. Simeon beats Piatkowski; Gentile precedes the phenomenon Schimdt in the triple jump with 16.26 metres. SidloMakes Flying the javelin yo 82.56 metres, Giannattasio overcomes himself in 100 metres.
Third edition on 10th and 11th May 1969. We have three Italian records: Azzaro 2.15 metres in the high jump (better than the Olympic Crosa); Arese makes 2’19”2 in one thousands metres; Dionisi (who beats Tracanelli) 5.20 metres in the pole vault.
The fourth meeting edition is celebrated on 7th May 1970 and we have the first field invasion in athletics: it’s celebrated Franco Arese’s victory in the ten thousands metres over Olympic Champios Gammoudi and Temu.
The firth edition on 1971 in twice over: the meeting in minor tone on 18th April and the female match Italy – Sweden (69-65). In april we have a surprise: the fencing master Cappiello (among his pupils Silvia Rinaldi, new fencing Champion) beats the talented Aldo Tomasini in the the thousands metres.
1972, Olympic Year: it happens everything on 10th and 11 th May. Drut beats Davenport in 110 metres hurdles; a few minutes later the victory a postman delivers him a congratulation telegram by his master Sandro Calvesi whom has seen the match on TV from Brascia (this means that 30 years ago the mails operated and the televison transmitted the athletics). Mennea dominates the two hundred metres; Sara Simeoni the high jump; Fiasconaro the four hundred metres; Dionisi the pole vault (beating Seagren, Isaksson, Lagerqvit, Murawski) and Fava the 3000 metres steeplechases.
On 23th May (the seventh edition) Marcello Fisconaro tries his World Recors on 800 metres: thityeight days later he will run in Milan in 1’43”7. Crawford, also, announces his Montreal Olympic ruch in 1976; Susanj in the 400 metres anticipates the results that the following year will give him the European title of 800 metres. Paola Pigni is always at the top.
On 24th and 25th August 1974, the eve of the Euroepan of Rome: great parade with Mennea who beats the English unpleasant Jenkins (he accuses Fiasconaro to be doped and then he was imprisoned for the trade of anabolic steroids, this means tha “God exists”); now Gabriella Dorio comes on the scene; performance with Stones, Fisconaro, Dixon, Malinowski, Szewinska. Now appears Venazio Ortis too.
On 8th May 1975 the ninth edition: Mennea runs the 300 metres. Bayi distinguishes himself in 1000 metres; Aki-Bua, arrived without notice, scatters himself in the 400 metres hurdles.
In the decennary edition (on 15th May 1976) we have Alberto Danger Juantorena’s coming out in the 800 metres. The “caballo” wins and everyone forecasts that he will be Olympic Champion and World record-holder of 800 metres. It happens seventy days later. There are also the future Olympic Champions: Drut (beated by Casanas), Wszola and Slusarski (take care to the spelling!).
The eleventh meeting edition, 15th May 1977: Mennea is involved on the 400 metres; Sara Simeoni makes her new recors 1.93 metres. Miklos Nemeth, Imre’s hammer thrower’s son, has success in Italy with his javelin.
The twelfth edition of Formia meeting, on 17th and 18th June 1978 makes to discover us in preview the hurdler Nehemiah and to know how pronunciate his surname, Niimaia. We have Mennea’s defeca in 200 metres, but he is preparing for Praga, the European of his great triumph. Sara Simeoni marks with 1.95 metres of new record the run-up that will permit her to arrive twice in the same summer to 2.01 metres of World record.
We have also other important interpreters: on 11th August 1979 Mennea marks 20”22 in 200 metres and Simeoni 1.90 metres in the high jump.
Nothing special on 17th and 18th May 1980: little resources, a match between Juvoslavia and Germany (only throws) Out of competition Kozakiewicz overcomes 5.60 metres in the pole vault. In the Moscow Olympic Games he will conquer the title jumping 18 centimeters more with his inedit style called “the greeting of unknown”.
Fifteenth edition on 29th July 1981: Maurizio Damilano enlightens the scene witw best world performances on 3 kilometers and on 3 miles. Very good Ewin Moses in 200 metres hurdles; “swang-song” for Henry Rono. Sara Simeoni is always on the top with 1.92 metres. On 28th August 1982 we’ve Pietro Mennea return to the competitons, defecate by Simionato in 200 metres. Pavoni flies in 100 metres (10”40); Cova tries the final rush that a few days later will grant him the Athens Europena success in 10.000 metres; Urlando marks his new hammer record (77.92). Sara Simeoni overcomes the 1.96 metres and touches the 2.02 metres…
The seventeeth edition on 30th July 1983: problems for Sara Simeoni who stops at 1.85 metres. Sinister presages in view of Helsinki World Championships; Cova marks good again (7’51”45 in 3000 metres); well Mennea and Pavoni too, announcement of a future great relay.
1984: Olympic year again – Los Angeles Games. Sara Simeoni goes well (and in California she will win the silver medal); Mennea and Sabia go well too, but the Olympic Games aren’t positive for them.
A lot of people on 16th June 1985 for the nineteenth meeting edition: we know Savier Sotomajor; we note the Bulgarian Markov, then World Champion in Rome 1987; well Sara Simeoni; Said Aouita “flies” in the mile.
The twentieth edition on 13th July 1986: Alessandro Andrei throws the “sphere” of 7,257 kilos to 21.77. We’ve Mei who overcomes Alberto Cova, deleting him from 2 miles Golden List. Sara Simeoni marks 1.94 metres, a few months before her retiring. Maurizio Damilano walks swiftly.
The walking finds its house in Formia on 11th July 1987 (twenty-first edition): Giuliana Salce Makes her record of 2 miles. It is surprised at these strange distances: it happens everything in Formia, it’s the centre of the show! It’s the woman day: we note Maria Curatolo from Turin and Annarita Sidoti form Sicily.
Others great and important women on 19th June 1988 in twenty-second world meeting: match between the sprinters Iassjenko (who will become as Ben Jonshon) before Evelyn Ashford; the Bulgarian Stefka Kostadinova overcomes with 2.04 metres Andonova’s 1.90 metres in the high jump; perfect Ana Quirot in the 800 metres.
There were the best sprinter in the world on 25th June 1989 to the Stadio of Aranci; there were Andreotti, the president of Coni; from Nebiolo to Gola. Even if the real attraction was for “the man in white”, the Pope John Paul II, Carol Wojtila who blessed the crowd, who blessed all the runners, with Calvin smith fast on Mitchell and till and celebrated the Papponetti’s real miracle.
The day before there was the first part of the twenty-third meeting edition, but not many people remember about Myrichs and Uccheddu’s performannces (male and female long jump), about Kiroki (800 metres), about Kariuki (3000 metres steeplechase), about Nehemiah (110 metres hurdles), about Maree (a veteran of 5000 metres). Everyone talked and still talk about a short run on the hectometre: 1. Smith (Usa) 10”25; 2. Mitchel (Usa) 10”26; 3. Tilli (Cus Roma) 10”26; 4. Olobia (Nig) 10”28; 5. Da Silva (Bra) 10”28; 6 Simon (Cub) 10”55. In this review this is the only classification, which deserves its complete arrival order.
On 7th July 1990 the twenty-fourth Formia meeting. Antibo announces that he will keep two consecutive victories in 5000 and 10.000 metres; Genny Di Napoli declares that in Spalato we won’t bea n appearance; Panetta Prepares his title in 3000 metres steeplechases defying Korir and Sang; Kenny Harris, defined as “Winsconsin locust”, marks 17.50 metre in the triple jump.
Papponetti invited everyone in his meeting: on 8th July 1991, for celebrating the important day of the twenty-fifth meeting, he invites Mr Segey Bubka, not more Societ but Ukrainian, and now his name will be correctly written as “Serhiy Nazarovic”. Bubka honoures his partipation with a world jump of 6.09 metres, exceeded with another record: only three attempts to 5.64 metres, 5.85 metres and at last 6.09 metres. We have others records in the walking with Salvador and De Benedictis, the best is Bubka, and Papponetti is his prophet.
In 1992 there is a change of the place of the Meeting that will take place in Caserta. Good audience, good athletes: Sotomajor 2.30 metres; Tarasov 5.80 metres; Damilano 5 kilometer in 18’30”43; Kostadinova 2.00; Quirot with her 1’58”90 over Trabaldo with less 2’. In 1993 tha place is still Caserta: we have Panetta’s retiring; 1994: sabbatical year; in 1995 with a good walking, the “samaritan” always saves our atleti positions. We come back in Formia in 1996 with a meeting included in EAA circuit. We’ve Mori who asserts on Laurent Ottoz; Korzeniowski will maintain his predominante on the walking until double and unequalled Sydney succe; four athletes fly over eight metres on the classic track of the School. The thirtieth Formia Meeting edition will take place on 13th July 1997. An intense programme: Antonella Bevilacqua is a great interpreter of the high jump. Very good the coupling of the scorers De Benedictis – Nikolayeva. One year later, on 12th July 1998, we have the thirthy-first “Papponetti World Meeting” edition, coupled to the 42nd “Trofeo dell’Industri”. In 800 metres dominates De Meo from Formia, who runs for a Naples society. There are the protagonists of “Coppa Speranze Fiat” too, introduced Papponetti, as twenty years before he introduced the Competition Army – school, planned by General Roberti.
1999: sabbatical year. In 2000 Genny Di Napoli reaches an unforeseeable success in 1500; well the Hungarian Nemeth in the 100 metres; in 400hs metres Fabrizio Mori makes a good performance, reaching a serenity in an athletics season, which will not be reach of satisfactions. 2001: Fiona May wins in the long jump and is ready for the World Champions where she will conquer her second title of world champion.