The crew competing for the champion killed by osteosarcoma. “On the day of the funeral, Filippo’s mother took the flag that was on her son’s coffin and put it in my hand: she told us to take it to Tokyo for him”
Giacomo Gentili he is a boy on a mission. That may be why he is not enjoying the Olympic Village. And it has nothing to do with the alarm of positive South Africans, the plexiglass at the tables in the canteen, the scorching temperatures of what are likely to be the hottest Games in history and not even the absence of an audience. “Can I tell? Almost better that way, we are more focused on racing. For the rest we are careful, but the atmosphere is good, the competition field is comfortable, the Japanese cheered for us at the training on the lake with the tricolor flags ».
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The fact is that on Giacomo’s decidedly sturdy shoulders, forged with training on the Po in front of the Canottieri Bissolati in Cremona, and cared for by two physiotherapist parents (“whom I drove crazy”), there is a lot of responsibility: ” I’m like that, I can’t enjoy anything, to those who ask me if I’m excited, I answer that yes, the Olympics are beautiful but it’s not enough for me to be there, I want to do well ».
Giacomo, 23, is the capovoga of the four of sculls, the noble boat of Italian rowing (gold in Seoul ’88 and Sydney 2000, which is the last at an Olympics, silver in Beijing 2008). But this particular boat, the one to which he dictates times and rhythm, which will go into the water on Friday for the heats (“and be careful, they are more difficult than the final”), which has already won gold at the 2018 World Cup in front of the usual Dutch, and bronze to those of 2019 (and then two golds, two silvers and a bronze to the European Championships from 2017 to 2021), has passed a terrible test. The worst. The one that can take away the meaning of everything, even an Olympics.
On April 29 an osteosarcoma struck down Filippo Mondelli, 26, one of four in the winning crew. «It is clear that everything is connected – says Giacomo, as he returns from training -, we are here for him too, we owe him. On the day of the funeral, Filippo’s mother took the flag that was on her son’s coffin and put it in my hand: he told us to take it to Tokyo for him. It’s a good blow, but I’m happy to have this responsibility ». Filippo, in one of the last interviews, had revealed that the first thought after the diagnosis had been “for the Olympics, for the dream I was missing”. And then it is clear that on Friday there will be five in the water.
«Philip is a presence that is felt in the water». Now the crew is composed as follows: Giacomo overturns. «I’m the one who sets the pace and makes the strategies, but I’m nothing without the engine. And with the engine I have, if we go slow it’s my fault ». Let’s move on to the engine, then: «Number two is Luca Rambaldi, from Ferrara, a formidable, technical and strong athlete at the same level. The N. 2 is the connection with the rest of the boat. The problem is that we are two heads of c … and we collide constantly, we have two very strong characters, but now we have matured a bit ». Then, there is Andrea Panizza, from Lecco: «Paniz, my brother – continues Giacomo -, the one with whom I am best: he is the athlete with the most strength in the whole national team, a bull, the engine room of the boat, a n. 3 perfect “. He had shoulder problems, but now he’s back. And then at n. 4, the experience of Simone Venier, 37 years old in a month, at his fifth Olympics: «Simone is the psychologist of the boat, the one who takes Luca and me aside and makes us think, the one who reminds us that at the Olympics the one who is more relaxed wins». And then there is a number 5, which the Dutch dream of.
July 21, 2021 (change July 21, 2021 | 07:51)
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