Friday, May 13, 2016

Could Hannah Cunliffe represent Italy at the Olympics this summer?

With the Pac-12 track and field championships on the horizon Saturday in Seattle at Husky Track, comes this report from the Italian sports newspaper Gazetta del Sport, that Federal Way HS graduate Hannah Cunliffe (left/photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport) could be on the move again, this time to represent Italy in international competition.

According to the report, which you can access here (in Italian), Cunliffe, who finished fourth at the 200 meters for Team USA at the 2013 IAAF world youth (16-17) championships in Donetsk, Ukraine, began exploring Italian citizenship several months ago. Hannah’s father Mike, who is also the long time coach of the Seattle Speed Track Club, talked to officials of the Italian federation at the IAAF world indoor championships in Portland about the possibility of her obtaining an Italian passport.

The report cites that Cunliffe’s great-great-grandfather, Giovanni Manza, emigrated to the USA from Italy, and that he came from the village of Figline Valdarno in the province of Cosenza.  

The Cunliffes are working with Italian and US authorities to prove that her great-great-grandfather, who passed away in 1971, never relinquished his Italian citizenship at the time of his death.  If so, it would open the way for her to possibly compete for Italy as soon as the European championships, and the Olympics this summer.

Cunliffe’s potential switch could make things interesting for the IAAF, after its president, Sebastian Coe, stated in a report a day ago, that he wants stricter rules in place to restrict athletes switching national allegiance, a view he said is widely shared within the global track & field community.

"In the past, these transfer of allegiance requests have been, sometimes, a little flimsy and we need to address that."

Cunliffe enters the Pac-12 championships as one of the heavy favorites in both the 100 and 200, along with Oregon's 4x100 meter relay team.


SeattleU’s Mandie Maddux won the heptathlon competition at the Western Athletic Conference championship meet at Lawrence, Kansas Thursday, to match the pentathlon crown she won during the indoor season, scoring a personal best and school record 4859 points.

Maddux finished fourth in the long jump with a leap of 16-7 (5.05m) to start day two, then won the javelin with a throw of 125-0 (38.11m), before winning the 800 in a personal best 2:23.52.

“Finishing the race brought out the reminder of all the hard work from the year, the days of self-doubt, and the many moments of encouragement from everyone,” Maddux said. “I knew I had reached my goal and was just overwhelmed with emotions that I had finally done it.

In other action at day 2 of the WAC, Elena Smith was second in the 10000 in a school record 36:02.24.

SeattleU’s Matthew Seidel was second in the men’s 10000 in 30:46.21, while teammate Baxter Arguinchona was third in 30:47.62.

In Greeley, Colorado, Eastern Washington’s Kendra Hamm was sixth in the heptathlon competition at the Big Sky Championship meet, scoring 4676 points to eclipse her previous personal best of 4545 points.

Teammate Jozie Kimes was 13th with a two-day total of 4151 points.

On Thursday, Hamm started the day with 671 points in the long jump with a 17-8 3/4 leap, scored 489 in the javelin with a 100-8 throw, and then completed the competition by scoring 735 points with a the sixth-best time in the 800 meters of 2:26.68. Kimes scored 606 in the long jump (16-11 3/4), 504 in the javelin (103-2) and 617 in the 800 (2:36:20).

The main portion of the Big Sky Championships begin Friday in Greeley.

All four of Washington’s Division II schools head to Monmouth, Oregon for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships, which start Friday at McArthur Field on the campus of Western Oregon.

Western Washington and Alaska Anchorage are the two favored teams in the men’s competition, with the Seawolves looking to stop Western’s streak of five straight conference team titles.

On the women’s side, look for a battle between Alaska Anchorage and Seattle Pacific.  The Falcons, who start the meet with an 11-point cushion thanks to Maliea Luquin’s win in the heptathlon, are the defending outdoor champs, and return five individual winners from last year.

You can read the GNAC’s excellent meet preview here (women) and here (men).

NOTE:  The sports information office of Seattle University, Eastern Washington, and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference contributed to this report.

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