Hurdling hopeful Lorenzo Simonelli has eyes on being the breakout star at the the 2024 European Athletics Championships in Rome.

The Championships get underway on Friday 7 June, with Italian athletes hoping to garner home advantage ahead of this summer’s Olympics in Paris.

Defending Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs is the established sprinting star, with Olympic high jump champion Giacomo Tamberi also one of the biggest names for home fans, but hurdler Simonelli is hoping to grab his own headlines.

The 21-year-old sits 0.06 seconds outside the Italian record and will be out to become the first Italian to medal in the event since Eddy Ottoz in 1969.

“Rome has been my big goal since the start of the year. Naturally everyone is talking about Gianmarco [Tamberi] and our racewalkers but this will be my chance to let people know who I am,” said Simonelli, who earned 60m hurdles silver at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships in March.

“All my friends and family are buying tickets for Rome. It started at about 10, then went up to 20 and now it’s even more. I’m going to have a lot of support there.” 

Simonelli comes into the Championships in fine form, having shaved 0.11 seconds off his indoor personal best over 60m earlier this year.

His time of 7.43 seconds was enough for world silver behind the near unbeatable Grant Holloway and Simonelli will hope to continue that trajectory outdoors, starting with his performances in Rome.

He added: “I never imagined I'd get this result. I came here wanting to get to the final but to come out with a silver medal is crazy. It was a fight for second place as Holloway is impossible to beat,” said Simonelli in March.

“And I certainly want to go fast this summer. How fast, I don’t know.”

If there is any lingering doubt, Simonelli has been back by former Italian hurdler Giorgio Frinolli, who represented Italy over 400m hurdles at the 2000 Olympic Games.

“When I saw Lollo [Simonelli] in 2022, he was already a top junior but during 10 days of tests, he blew me away,” he said.

“I could see that he had 13-zero potential even then. And he’s fast, Last year he ran 10.25 in tights and in the rain. He can run 10 seconds dead, perhaps even less. 

“I don't see any differences in an athletic sense between Marcell Jacobs and Simonelli, the difference is that Lorenzo knows how to hurdle. However, in the hurdles it's not that an issue of how fast you go on the flat, but being faster between the barriers and controlling that speed.

“In Glasgow, I looked at Simonelli and Dosso and just admired what they were doing, and how they were doing it. 

"Usually, my athletes at major championships raise my blood pressure but on this occasion they lowered it. I think they can prosper in the theatre that’s going to be the European Athletics Championships in Rome.”

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