Italian Sport: An unbeatable Italy
- WTI Magazine #143 Sep 18, 2021
After the victory of the European Football Championship and the extraordinary results obtained at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, this incredible Italian summer ended with another amazing sporting success, the one obtained by the unbeatable Italian athletes at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
An extraordinary feat, because with only 113 athletes, Italy managed to win 69 medals, 14 gold, 29 silver and 26 bronze, surpassing the 58 medals obtained at the Paralympic Games in Seoul 1988 and approaching the absolute record of 80 medals won at the Paralympic Games in Rome 1960. A very important result, because it shows how the Bel Paese is at the forefront in the promotion of sports for the disabled, with a movement that has thousands of practitioners in all sports disciplines.
Symbol of this success is certainly Bebe Vio, the fencer from Venice (Veneto) deprived of all four limbs due to fulminant meningitis that struck her at the age of eleven, who in Tokyo won gold in foil, confirming herself as Paralympic champion after the victory obtained at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016. Bebe has become an international star and a role model for millions of teenagers (she was the first Italian disabled sportswoman invited to dinner at the White House by President Barack Obama), because she was able to overcome all the difficulties of life. In April, just a few months before the Tokyo Paralympics, another physical problem made her risk her life, and it seemed she had no chance to compete. Instead, she managed to overcome yet another problem, and with extraordinary determination and courage she won over every one of her opponents to win gold in the individual competition and silver in the team competition, thus becoming a legend of Paralympic sport.
Another incredible success came from the Italian sprinters in the 100-meter track and field final. Ambra Sabatini, from Livorno (Tuscany), won the gold with the world record, Martina Caironi from Alzano Lombardo (Lombardy), a town in the province of Bergamo, came in second and Monica Graziana Contrafatto from Gela (Sicily), in the province of Caltanissetta, the bronze, completing an all-Italian podium in the "queen" race of the Paralympics.
Another historic feat was that of the Italian swimmers, able to conquer the record number of 39 medals, thus becoming the first power in the world in Paralympic swimming. During each day of competition in the aquatic center of Tokyo, the Italian anthem resounded, thanks to the Italian successes that followed one after the other without a break. The absolute protagonists, or rather the gold winners, gave unforgettable emotions to the Italians, winning the most prestigious races in the various categories of disability. Carlotta Gilli from Turin (Piedmont) won the 100-meter butterfly and the 200-meter mixed races, an extraordinary feat to say the least. Francesco Bocciardo from Genoa (Liguria) dominated the "queen" race, the 100 meter freestyle, and also won the 200 meter freestyle, becoming the king of speed at the aquatic center. Another star of the pool was Arjola Trimi, a girl born in Tirana, Albania, and now an Italian citizen, who won gold in the 50-meter backstroke and the 100-meter freestyle.
Stefano Raimondi, a young swimmer from Soave (Veneto), a small town in the province of Verona, won the 100 meter breaststroke, Simone Barlaam from Milan (Lombardy) triumphed in the 50 meter freestyle and Antonio Fantin, born in Latisana, a town in Friuli Venezia Giulia, won gold in the 100 meter freestyle. Still in swimming, the other golds were won by Giulia Terzi from Milan in the 100-meter freestyle and in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay together with her teammates Xenia Francesca Palazzo, Vittoria Bianco and Alessia Scortechini.
And then came the gold medal in the mixed cycling team relay with Diego Colombari from Turin (Piedmont), Paolo Cecchetto from Legnano (Lombardy) and Luca Mazzone from Terlizzi (Apulia), Bari, who gave their best to achieve a victory with a special flavor. The three of them are teammates of Alex Zanardi, the former Formula 1 and Formula Indy driver who, after the terrible accident on the track in 2001, became the world idol of Paralympic athletes. Alex has been fighting for over a year to stay alive, due to a car accident while he was training to prepare for races with his teammates. In addition to swimming, fencing and cycling, the Italian super team has won silver and bronze medals in athletics, canoeing, horseback riding, judo, paratriathlon, table tennis, shooting and archery, demonstrating to the world that we are a truly unbeatable team.