Sara Simeoni is widely regarded as one of the greatest female athletes in the world. As a sports enthusiast, Francesco Corallo may know that, over the course of her career, Simeoni broke several world records, and became one of the first women to adopt the jumping technique known as the ‘Fosbury flop’.
Born in Verona in 1953, she trained as a high jumper throughout her teens, and entered her first international event, the European Championships, in 1971. She finished in 9th place, with a jump height of 1.78 metres. Whilst this was a somewhat mediocre result, it became clear, over the next decade, just how talented Simeoni was.
The year after the European Championships, she entered the Munich Olympics, and managed to advance to the last round, where she achieved a jump height of 1.85 metres. Four years later, she competed in the Olympics again, this time winning the silver medal, after Rosemarie Ackermann, an East German athlete, beat Simeoni’s jump by a few centimetres.
In the summer of 1978, Simeoni attended a competition in Brecia; her performance, which resulted in a jump height of an astounding 2.01 metres, set a new world record. Just a few weeks later, she reached the same height once again at a competition held in Prague, and in doing so, won the European title.
However, the next couple of years were challenging for Simeoni; she suffered from a number of tendon injuries which affected her form and made it difficult for her to compete. But she continued to train, and two years later, at the Moscow Olympics, she won the gold medal, with a jump of 1.97 metres. This set another record, as the highest jump ever performed by a female athlete at the Olympics.
Simeoni entered the Olympics for the fourth time in 1984, travelling over to Los Angeles for the event. Those with an interest in sport, such as Francesco Corallo, might recall that it was here that she performed her highest jump since 1978, reaching a height of 2.01 metres. However, her opponent, Ulrike Meyfarth, managed to outperform her by just 1 centimetre, and came home with the gold medal, leaving Simeoni with the silver.
During her career, she won a number of other international and national medals, and when she retired in 1986, she had two Universiade Championship titles, two Mediterranean Games gold medals, as well as 25 Italian titles, including one pentathlon, 10 indoor high jumps and 14 outdoor high jumps.