Italian sport: The seven Italian sports endeavors of 2019
- WTI Magazine #123 Jan 19, 2020
2019 was an important year for Italian sport thanks to the many victories achieved at international level by Italian athletes of different disciplines. Seven endeavors, in particular, deserve to be remembered for their historical value. Below are the protagonists of these extraordinary sporting successes.
Filippo Tortu, a 21-year-old athlete born in Milan with Sardinian origins, has speed in his blood. His grandfather Giacomo ran the 100 meters in the 40s, his father Salvino in the 80s and his older brother Giacomo was also a good sprinter. He exploded in 2018, when in Madrid, Spain, he ran the distance in 9''99, becoming the first Italian to break down the 10'' wall. A goal, his, never reached by Pietro Mennea, the strongest Italian sprinter ever. In 2019, Tortu achieved another historic goal. In Doha, Qatar, he raced the 100-metre final at the World Championships, becoming the second Italian in history to achieve this achievement (32 years earlier Pierfrancesco Pavoni succeeded, racing the World Cup final in Rome with Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson).
Simona Quadarella, a 21-year-old swimmer born in Rome, is the new rising star of Italian swimming. A determined girl who is already regarded as the new Federica Pellegrini, the greatest Italian swimmer of all time. In 2019 she dominated almost all the long races, from 400 to 1500 meters freestyle, in Europe and around the world. At the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, she won the gold medal on the 1500 meters and on the 800 meters she surrendered only to the American swimming legend Katie Ledecky, winning the silver medal. A few months later, at the European Championships in a short pool in Glasgow, Scotland, she scored an extraordinary one-two and won gold on the 400 and 800-metre freestyle.
Frank Chamizo Marquez, a 27-year-old wrestler born in Matanzas, Cuba, who became an Italian citizen in 2015 thanks to his marriage to the Italian wrestler Dalma Caneva, in 2019 achieved an historic feat that earned him the title of free wrestler of the year, a prize awarded by the United World Wrestling for the first time to an Italian. At the European Championships in Bucharest 2019, he won the gold medal in the 74 kg category, a success that made him the first European wrestler in history capable of winning three titles in three different weight categories (the other two victories: Riga 2016 gold category 65Kg, Novi Sad 2017 gold category 70 Kg).
Dorothea Wierer, 29 years old biathlete born in Brunico, after becoming the only Italian able to win at least one race in every biathlon format (and the third in the world, after the French Martin Fourcade and Marie Dorin) in 2019 has established another historical record. At the World Championships in Östersund, Sweden, she won gold in the line start, silver in the single mixed relay and bronze in the mixed relay, three medals that helped her win the overall World Cup at the end of the season, an accomplishment never before achieved by an Italian biathlete.
Roberto Mancini was one of the greatest Italian soccer midfielders and strikers of the 1980s and 1990s. He retired in 2001 and in the same year became coach of club teams in Italy, England, Turkey and Russia. In 2018 he was called as coach of the Italian national team, a role always difficult in a country where soccer is almost a religion. His task was to obtain the qualification of the National team for this year's European Championships and he succeeded very well. In one year he won all 10 qualifying matches (and 11 consecutive victories considering his success in the friendly match against the United States), surpassing after more than 80 years the record of consecutive victories of the Italian National team, 9, which belonged to the great Vittorio Pozzo, coach of the National team world champion in 1938.
In Italy it is known as the "Settebello", in the world as the strongest men's water polo national team of all time. And 2019 increased the fame of the "terrible guys" of the 33-meter pool, with yet another World Championship victory in Gwangju, South Korea, by the team coached by the Sicilian Alessandro Campagna, the strongest Italian coach ever. The clear victory against Spain's historic rivals in the world final (finished 10-5 for Italy), gave the "Settebello" the fourth world title, a number never reached by other men's national water polo teams (in the women's field, the record is set by the United States with 6 wins).
Let's close the list of the seven Italian sports ventures of 2019 with the beautiful accomplishment centered by Lube Civitanova Marche, the volleyball team from Marche that has achieved a series of unrepeatable successes. In 2019, in fact, the team coached by the Apulian Ferdinando De Giorgi (a legend of this sport as a player, with three world titles won from 1990 to 1998) won the Italian championship, then the European Champions’ League and finally the World Cup for Clubs, beating in the final played in Betim, Brazil, the hosts of Cruzeiro.