Italian Sport: Golden Italian butterflies
- WTI Magazine #145 Nov 13, 2021
2021 is the year of Italian sport. Since July, with the victory of the European Soccer Championships, passing through the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo and the successes of the national men's and women's volleyball, polo, American football and cycling teams, it seems that the azzurri and azzurre known only how to win. And one month from the end of this magical year for Italy, other successes have arrived to make the entire nation rejoice.
The "butterflies": this is the nickname that Italians have given to the female athletes of Rhythmic Gymnastics, one of the most loved teams by the entire population, because they are beautiful, graceful, elegant as the Italian style wants them to be. They dominated the World Championships in Kitakyushu, Japan.
In just a few days, they won repeated medals, overcoming the "unbeatable" gymnasts of Eastern Europe as has rarely happened in history. Alessia Maurelli, Martina Centofanti, Agnese Duranti, Martina Santandrea and Daniela Mogurean, these are the names of the Italian “butterflies” gymnasts who dominated in Japan. They won a surprising gold medal in the hoops and clubs event, one of the most technical and difficult of the program. And they weren't satisfied, because at the World Championships they also won silver in the 5-ball, silver in the team All-Around and silver in the team event, and a historic bronze by Sara Raffaeli in the hoop.
It has been a non-stop escalation, with millions of Italians glued in front of the television to admire their incredible exercises performed to perfection, cheering for them every time they entered the competition field. An incredible score conquered by the Italian butterflies, thanks to which, for the first time in history, the girls of rhythmic gymnastics become the most quoted opponents for the next international appointments. The first of these is next year's World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, which will open the Olympic season towards the Paris 2024 Games, where the Italian girls will arrive with a lot more experience.
But Italian gymnastics in the Kitakyushu competition did even more. In men's artistic gymnastics, 25-year-old Nicola Bartolini from Cagliari (Sardinia) participated in his first final in the floor exercise, a specialty that from the '20s to the '60s gave Italy many successes in the Olympics and European Championships, but no Italian gymnast had ever been able to win a world title. Bartolini, however, succeeded, winning the gold with an extraordinary score (14,800 points). A victory that crowned a fantastic expedition of Italian gymnastics, able to win in Japan also a silver medal on rings with Marco Lodadio, a bronze medal in the same specialty with Salvatore Maresca and a silver medal on vault with Asia D'Amato.
Successes that once again have made all Italians proud, now accustomed to hear Mameli's anthem in every stadium, for every sport, individual or team, all over the world.