One of the dominant female high jumpers of the 1970s and 1980s, Sara Simeoni enjoyed a long career. Her first international tournament was the 1971 European Championship, while the last was in 1986, again at the Europeans. One of the first women to adopt the Fosbury flop, she first medalled internationally in 1974, placing third at the European Championships. She jumped a flawless final at the 1976 Olympics until reaching 1.91 (a new personal best), which was only bettered by Rosemarie Ackermann, leaving the silver to Simeoni. Her best result came two years. At a meet in Brescia, she cleared 2.01 metres for a world record, becoming the second woman (after Ackermann) to clear 2 metres. She equalled the mark just weeks later at the European Championships in Prague, beating Ackermann by two centimeters. She did so again at the Moscow Olympics, where she bettered the Olympic Record to 1.97 and won the Olympic gold. In the years to follow, Simeoni suffered from a lingering tendon injury, although despite that, she did win bronze at the 1982 Europeans (though she lost her world record to Ulrike Meyfarth), but she also bowed out early at the inaugural 1983 World Championships in Helsinki. The flagbearer for the Italian team at the Los Angeles Olympics, she starred for the last time. In a close duel with Meyfarth, the 1972 champion, Simeoni reached 2.00 metres (for the first time since 1978), only narrowly losing out to Meyfarth’s 2.02. Retiring after the 1986 season, Simeoni has 25 Italian titles under her belt, 14 in the outdoor high jump, 10 indoors, and one (1972) in the pentathlon. She also won four European Indoor titles, two Mediterranean Games golds, and two Universiade championships. Sara Simeoni is married to Erminio Azzaro, himself a former high jumper (silver at the 1970 Summer Universiade and bronze at the 1969 European Championships), and also Simeoni’s coach.
Personal Best: HJ – 2.01 (1978).