The Italian 5000m record holder wants to put in a performance to be proud of in Budapest
Nadia Batokleti aims to continue her stunning rise on the World Cup circuit this month [August 19-27].
The 23-year-old, who is an ASICS athlete, recently broke three seconds of Roberta Brunet’s long-standing Italian 5000m record of 14:44.50 at the Diamond League in London [July 23].
Brunet’s mark had stood since 1996, but Batokleti destroyed it at the London Stadium in 14:41.30.
It’s no surprise as Battocletti also holds the Italian 5km record, but now she’s brought that speed to the track in some style.
AW caught up with the Italian at ASICS’ Chojo Camp Europe last month, the brand’s first European training center for professional athletes in Font-Romeu, before Budapest.
The camp gives athletes the opportunity to relax and train at altitude in the Pyrenees and embodies the ASICS philosophy of “a healthy mind in a healthy body”.
Cross Country inspiration
Battocletti’s first experience at a major world championship was the Tokyo Olympics two years ago, where she finished an impressive seventh in the 5,000m final.
She clocked 14:46.29 in the Japanese capital, a time the Italian bettered by almost five seconds in London last month.
Much of that track improvement comes from a truly outstanding resume.
Battocletti has eight European cross country medals – five of them gold – to her name at U20 and U23 level. Four of those five gold medals were individual titles.
It’s clear that her youth career was defined by cross country and the natural strength training that is synonymous with the discipline.
“Cross country is really important for middle distance running because in the winter you have to cover a lot of kilometers and it gives you strength,” Battocletti told AW. “Then you do track speed for the track season.
If Batokleti is looking for motivation ahead of Budapest, then she won’t have to go far.
The European U23 cross country individual title in Turin last December was one of the highlights of her career as she dispatched Britain’s Megan Keith and Alex Millard to take the crown on home soil.
It wasn’t just the manner of victory, but the fact that Battocletti overcame a number of challenges before the event.
“I loved the atmosphere during the race and all my family and friends came to support me,” says Batokletti. “There were a lot of emotions that day when I crossed the border.
“I was so emotional because there were so many people cheering, shouting ‘go Nadia’ and I think that’s important for me because it makes me do better.
“Going into the event, I discovered I had mononucleosis [glandular fever] during the European Championship [Battocletti finished seventh in the 5000m in Munich]. It was a bad moment for me and my focus immediately turned to cross country.
“All my family and support have been there for me during this time and it was emotional to go through it.”
Budapest will be Battocletti’s first world championship since a shin injury ruled her out of the last edition in Oregon.
Importance of family
Battotcletti is trained by her father Giuliano and they live in Font-Romeu when she trains at altitude.
Giuliano himself was an athlete and is in the Italian top ten all-time in the 5,000m, 10,000m and half marathon.
He also won a world U20 bronze medal in the 5000m in 1994, finishing second to the famous Daniel Komen.
Battotcletti’s mother Jawhara Saddougui was also a track and field athlete and had a personal best in the 800 meters of 2:01.
“I started doing athletics when I was seven,” adds Batokleti. “Both my mother and father were professional runners. Then I started to like athletics in general when I became an adult and then a professional athlete.
“My dad had me at 24, so he was young when I was growing up and we could run together.
“My father is great in the dual role of father and coach. I really like that athletics is part of my family because my parents are so important and can understand me more than others who don’t do sports for example.”
🏆 Nadia Batokleti’s victory at Euro XC U23 on home soil ahead of Megan Keith was one of the stories of the champions.
🇮🇹 The Italian has been suffering from illnesses recently and stopped antibiotics just 10 days before the race.
Her father won team gold in Ferrara ’98. 👏
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) December 13, 2022
Battocletti appreciates the support her father Giuliano gives her when she trains and relaxes in Font-Romeu.
Her training is at an altitude of around 6,000 feet and includes sessions on the track, tempo runs around the 1km ‘Paula Radcliffe’ circuit and long runs around the lake (Lac de Matemale) or the woods in Bolquère.
“In Italy we have a lot of that combination and we like sports in our family,” she tells AW.
“I appreciate being here. We have our super center with track, pool and gym. It also allows me to recover, which is important to us. Font-Romeu is around 1800m and it’s great for me both physically and mentally.”
Battocletti was never forced into athletics
Besides talking to Nadia Batocleti, AW met his father Giuliano in Font-Romeu.
He claims that although both he and Nadia’s mother were athletes, she tried many different sports.
“When Nadia got older, she fell in love with running, as opposed to tennis or others or swimming,” he says.
“I’m not a father who says you have to do this and this has to be done. She is now an adult and can do many things on her own. We have an exchange of opinions and ideas about the training itself and we can change a lot of things.”
Now that Nadia is 23 years old and on the verge of her world championship debut, learning from others is important in her journey.
“We immediately agreed to come [to Font-Romeu]Giuliano adds. “I have many Moroccan friends who were athletes and even though they didn’t run in France, they always spoke so highly of Font-Romeu.
“So I was curious to come and see how I could grow as a coach as well, exchange opinions and see how other athletes are trained. There is always something to learn from everyone, even in Italy where they are used to doing certain things! You always have to look to improve and work on the fringe games.”
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