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THE CHALLENGES OF YESTERDAY
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ZOOM (+) RTHE LAST CHALLENGE L E   S F I D E   D I   I E R I

THE CHALLENGES OF YESTERDAY

My sports (and not only sports) biography begins in Milan, in the lanes of the Delphinium Swim Club run by the Bertolini's. My brother, Raffaele (3 years older) encouraged me to start swimming, and the fact that I lived only a few meters from the pool "Samuele" on Via Mecenate helped too!

Soon I started swimming with the club "Nuotatori Milanesi" after which I moved on, during my military service, to the "Fiamme Oro" team.

I was quite successful at competitive swimming from a very young age, but my first international victory was at the age of 15, when I won the title of European Youth Champion in 200 meter medley during a meet held in Florence, Italy in 1978.

My best results were always those in the medley events (200 and 400 meters), a race which is made up of the 4 swim strokes: butterfly, backstroke, breast and freestyle, and which is considered the extreme expression of swimming, requiring coordination, elasticity, and fluidity along with rhythm and dynanism.

In 1979 I arrived second at the Mediterranean Games in the 400 meter medley, just before my Italian "paesano" Maurizio Divano, with whom - in the years to come - I would often compete in healthy and friendly antagonism.

The following year, in 1980, I participated in the Olympic Games in Moscow, which were boycotted by many Western countries. My brother Raffaele came in fifth in 100 meters freestyle.

Year by year international success continued; in 1981 I won the only medal for the Italian Team (2nd in 200 meter medley, and third in 400 meter medley) at the European Games held in Split, Croazia.

In 1982 in Guayaquil, the most important port city of Equador, I won the bronze medal in the 200 meter medley (with a time of 2'04"65) at the World Championships, behind the Soviet, Sydorenko, and the American, Barnett.

However, 1983 was the year that gave me the most satisfaction. That was the year of the European Championships hosted in Rome within the incomparable beauty of the Italian Forum, in which I won 2 gold medals. My races were as always the medleys, 200 and 400 meters, and in each of the distances I established new European recods: 2'02"48 and 4'20"41 respectfully. A bronze medal in the 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay topped off the Roman success.

In 1983 I also won the gold medal in 400 meter medley at the Mediterranean Games held in Casablanca, Marocco, just in front of my eternal friendly-rival Divano.

In 1984, I participated in the Olympic Games held in Los Angeles. There unfortuantely the results (7th in the 400 meter medley) were much lower than those expected.

Summarizing my competitive success, I believe that I can say that I have a record which is still unbeaten: 41 individual Italian titles won in 9 different disciplines witin in a span of 11 years: 50 - 100 - 200 - 400 meters freestyle, 100 and 200 meters backstroke, 100 butterfly, in addition to (obviously) 200 and 400 meter medleys.

One last significant note: the time I established in Rome in 1983 in the 200 meters medley was maintained as an absolute Italian record until the summer of 1999, when it was beaten by an athlete by the name of … Massimiliano Rosolino, and we saw what he was capable of at the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000!

But this is the story of… other times.


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