Golden Gala 2013, RomeEvery year in June, Rome hosts the Golden Gala at its Olympic Stadium. Rome held the track and field events from the 1960 summer Olympics here, and it is also here that Roma and Lazio, Rome’s two football (a.k.a. soccer) teams play their matches.

But for one night each June since 1980, the stadium is converted to an international competition of track and field, with many of the biggest names in those sports descending on the Eternal City to compete.

Golden Gala 2013, RomeThe event began in 1980 as a way to create an international competition in which all countries could compete, including those – like the United States – that boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Since that first edition, the event has grown each year, and the competition is in the IIAF Circuit of the Diamond League.

The uncontested star of the event the past three years has been the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who draws huge crowds on his visits to Rome. The event last week – on 6 June – was no exception. Still, the 100 meter race did show that Bolt is not unbeatable. He was edged out by American sprinter Justin Gatlin at 9″94, just a hundredth of a second before Bolt’s second-place finish at 9″95.

Golden Gala 2013, RomeThis year’s edition was dedicated to the great Italian sprinter Pietro Mennea, who passed away earlier this year.

There are plenty of big names and new talent for sprinting, hurdles, long jump, high jump, pole vault, shot put, javelin, etc. etc…

So if you’re passing through Rome next June, be sure to book your tickets for the next edition of the Golden Gala. See you in the stadium…