Italian Sport: The magical Italian summer
- WTI Magazine #142 Aug 18, 2021
The victory of the European Football Championship in July was only the beginning of a magical Italian summer. A summer that gave endless emotions to the Italians, demonstrating to the entire world how strong is this land that for millennia has amazed the world with its epic feats in art, architecture, engineering, literature and sport.
At the Tokyo Olympic Games, Italian athletes achieved an unprecedented feat, winning a record number of 40 medals, surpassing the record set at the 1932 Los Angeles and 1960 Rome Olympic Games with 36 medals. These successes were achieved in 19 different sports disciplines by a group of 384 athletes, 50 of whom were born in other countries and have become Italian citizens, demonstrating how Italy has made multi-ethnicity a real strength.
The sporting power of a country among the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic showed itself in all its splendor in Japan, with legendary feats especially in athletics, the queen of Olympic sports.
After 125 years since the birth of the most important sporting event in the world, invented by the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin, whose ancestors were born in Rome, an Italian athlete won the race par excellence, the 100 meters, ousting from the throne the American athletes, the strongest ever in the history of this race. Ironically, the fastest man in the world, Lamont Marcell Jacobs, was born in El Paso, Texas, to an American father and an Italian mother, but grew up in Desenzano del Garda, in the province of Brescia, Lombardy, where he became passionate about athletics, first becoming a long jumper and then a phenomenal sprinter. And in Tokyo he became a legend, winning the 100 meters with an exceptional race (9'80 was the winning time) and five days later also the 4x100 relay, another race where the Americans have almost always dominated. A magic relay, composed by the "Texan", by Eseosa Fostine Desalu, a boy of Nigerian origins, by the young Sardinian from Oristano Lorenzo Patta and by the Lombard of Sardinian origins Filippo Tortu, who beat the British by a single hundredth of a second, knocking them out again after the European Championships.
But Italian feats in athletics have gone further. Gianmarco Tamberi, is an athlete from the Marche region who just a few days before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he was favored to win, suffered an ankle ligament injury that put his career at risk. This time Gimbo, as his friends call him, won the gold medal in the high jump, sharing the victory with Mutaz Essa Barshim, from Qatar, the strongest in the world in the high jump. And then two other wonderful golds, won in the hardest test of athletics, the march, with Massimo Stano and Antonella Palmisano, both from Puglia, king and queen of the 20 kilometers. Five golds as it had never happened in the Olympic history of Italy, which had legendary athletes, such as Ugo Frigerio, the greatest marcher of all time, Pietro Mennea, the sprinter of miracles and Sara Simeoni, the lady of high jump.
The whole world has knelt before the power of Italian athletics, but the "Azzurri" have done even more. In cycling, Italy won the team road race, the most fascinating among the races, with Simone Consonni, Filippo Ganna, Francesco Lamon and Jonathan Milan, also setting the world record. An epic enterprise that has brought back the Italians in the time, when to triumph in the most important races of the world there were Coppi, Bartali, Girardengo, Moser and Pantani. And yet another feat was signed by Luigi Busà, the Sicilian from Avola who won the gold medal in karate, ousting from the throne the Japanese masters, inventors of the ancient martial art. And again the Apulian from Mesagne Vito dell'Aquila, who won the gold medal in taekwondo, the Korean martial art spread all over Asia. Two steel women won gold in rowing, the first in Italian history at the Olympic Games. They are Federica Cesarini from Cittiglio, a very small town in the province of Varese, and Valentina Rodini from Cremona, both tows in Lombardy. And a pair of sailors, Caterina Banti from Rome (Lazio) and Ruggero Tita from Rovereto in the province of Trento (Trentino Alto Adige), won the first gold in a mixed race in Italian history.
In addition to the 10 gold medals, Italian athletes won other legendary medals and more. The Lombard gymnast Vanessa Ferrari, at 30 years of age, after a long series of injuries, won an almost impossible bronze, just as the swimmer from Carpi (Emilia Romagna) Gregorio Paltrinieri, who arrived at the Olympic Games after having mononucleosis in June, was the first swimmer in history to have won a medal in the pool, a silver in the 800 meters, and one in cross-country swimming, a bronze in the 10 kilometers. And speaking of swimming, the "divine" Federica Pellegrini, at 33 years of age, managed to reach her fifth consecutive final in the 200 meter freestyle, becoming the first swimmer in Olympic history capable of this incredible feat. Finally, the Italian flag bearer Elia Viviani, cyclist born in the small town of Isola della Scala, in the province of Verona (Veneto), accomplished another feat, winning the bronze medal in the omnium, the fascinating track cycling event, five years after the gold medal won in Rio de Janeiro in the same specialty. A great Italy that has given an unforgettable summer to the whole population more and more proud of our own country, the most beautiful and also a winning protagonist in the world of sport. Viva l’Italia!!