BOLZANO. The magical three months, 92 days to be exact, which brought or confirmed the Italy of sport on top of the world. From 3 July to 3 October Italy dominated in many sports. With his athletes he colored a fantastic summer with blue, delighting millions of Italians glued in front of televisions or simple but highly advanced smartphones. The legendary Olympics with 40 medals won, never so many in history, the superlative Paralympics where there were 69 podiums, the European football title in the ‘temple’ of Wembley beating England on penalties, the two continental volleyball titles with addition of the historic world of men’s volleyball under 21, the many triumphs of cycling and successes in the world of motors. All exciting moments that make Italian sport one of the most complete and varied on the international chessboard.
The magical summer of Italian sport began on 3 July with the victory of the European softball title. On the Friulian diamond of Castions di Strada, the pink movement of the Italian ‘beat and run’ had beaten Holland 9 to 5, thus raising the crown of Europe for the twelfth time. Eight days later, Sunday 11, under the eyes of the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri had beaten England on penalties (2-1). At Wembley, the British took the lead with Show then Bonucci’s equalizer and at the end the penalties with the goalkeeper Donnarumma great protagonist. Attending the final of the European football championship, postponed from the summer of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was also Matteo Berrettini who a few hours earlier in the Wimbledon final had surrendered in four sets by the number one of the tennis world Novak Djokovic. It had never happened in 134 editions that an Italian reached the final of the prestigious London tournament.
The days go by and the expectations around Italian sport are growing day by day.
The long-awaited Olympics will open in Tokyo on 23 July. Tokyo 2020 should have been held twelve months earlier but Covid-19 had forced the first historical postponement of a five-ring event: never since 1896 except for war reasons. With a record expedition – 384 qualified athletes in 36 sports and almost gender equality (197 men and 187 women) – Italy Team flew with many dreams to the land of the Rising Sun closed to the rest of the world being in a state of emergency for health reasons. Ten times the notes of the Mameli Hymn were heard. The booty of Italy was also enriched by ten silvers and twenty bronzes. There was a legendary, incredible, memorable day: the ‘bestial Sunday’ of August 1st. Tokyo Olympic Stadium, in eleven minutes the apotheosis: first Gianmarco Tamberi is gold in the high and after Marcell Jacobs wins the 100 meters printing the stellar 9 ”80 time trial. Athletics will give another three golds, two from the march with Antonella Palmisano and Massimo Stano, and the one signed by the four 4×100 musketeers, Patta, Jacobs, Desalu and Tortu. Also engaged in team pursuit in track cycling: gold for Francesco Lamon, Simone Consonni, Jonathan Milan and Filippo Ganna. In the Olympics of the farewell of Federica Pellegrini and the six medals of swimming, the first gold of an Italian mixed couple Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti in the Nacra 17 of sailing must be counted.
On August 15th, Italian women’s tennis returns to the top of the world. Thanks to Camila Giorgi who in Montreal beats the Czech Karolína Plísková becoming the second Italian to win a WTA1000 tournament after Flavia Pennetta. A couple of weeks pass and the spotlight is still on the capital of Japan. At the Paralympics Italy plays a leading role, finishing the medal table in ninth place thanks to its 69 medals, 14 of them gold. It was the edition of the great confirmation of the immense Bebe Vio in fencing, of the many swimmers capable of establishing themselves at world level but also of another feat, the hat-trick in the 100 meters in athletics signed by Ambra Sabatini (complete with world record of 14 ”11), Martina Caironi and Monica Graziana Contrafatto, three girls with one leg amputated and with as many different life stories.
After the Olympic disappointment, Paola Egonu and her companions made up for Serbia’s interests by beating her in her “den”, Belgrade (3-1). For Italvolley in pink the third magical continental title. Remaining in volleyball on 19 September after a hard-fought match against Slovenia, won by 3 to 2, Fefè De Giorgi’s Italy puts the seventh European men’s title on the board. September is confirmed as the month of volleyball. In Mexico, the Italian under 18 women’s national team won silver by being beaten 3-0 by Russia.
September is also the month of great cycling. At the European road championships in Trento there are four Italian gold medals, Sonny Colbrelli in the road test, Silvia Zanardi in the under 23 road race, Vittoria Guazzini in the under 23 time trial and in the mixed time trial. Filippo Ganna, Olympic gold medalist with the quartet, is silver at the continental event but at the World Championships in Flanders he scores and confirms himself as the fastest time trial on planet earth. Small brackets in September for baseball with Italy bronze at the European Championships in Piedmont. On 9 September Gianmarco Tamberi wins the ‘Weltklasse’ in Zurich with 2.34 and becomes the first Italian in history to win the Diamond League. On the 18th it is Filippo Tortu who amazes everyone: in the distant Nairobi he prints 20 “11 on 200 meters and becomes the second fastest Italian ever on 200 meters after Pietro Mennea’s 19” 72 dated September 1979. On 26 September in Mantua the Motocross Italy becomes the strongest team in the world (it happened in 1999 and 2002) by winning the ‘Nations Trophy’. To accomplish the feat, Antonio Cairoli, Alessandro Lupino and Mattia Guadagnini. Yesterday, October 3, another magical Sunday. Colbrelli imposes himself in the sprint in the legendary Paris-Roubaix. Sonny is the 14th Italian to conquer the race nicknamed ‘the Hell of the North’. The last Italian success was 22 years ago with Andrea Tafi. In Sofia, in the meantime, Jannik Sinner won the ATP 250 in Sofia for the second consecutive year. The blue player, who had said ‘no’ at the Tokyo Olympics, won in two sets in the final (6-3, 6-4), the Frenchman Gael Monfils. In the evening, volleyball is the icing on the cake. After losing four finals, Italy under 21 became world champion. In Cagliari the Azzurri beat Russia’s resistance with a sharp 3 to 1.
Now a “break” of a few weeks, at the end of the month alpine skiing will start and then gradually the other snow and ice sports all projected towards the Beijing Winter Olympic Games which will open on Friday 4 February 2022.
Some of these protagonists will be guests of the Sport Festival which begins today in Trento. Places are still available for today’s meetings with Simona Quadarella (11am Sala Depero), with the Paralympic sprinters Ambra Sabatini, Martina Caironi and Monica Contrafatto (4pm Santa Chiara), and with the Tokyo 2020 weightlifting Olympians Giorgia Bordignon , Nino Pizzolato and Mirko Zanni (7.30 pm Palazzo Geremia).