Showing posts with label Valentina Vezzali. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Valentina Vezzali. Show all posts

17 May 2021

Giovanna Trillini - fencing champion

Four-times Olympic champion in foil

Giovanna Trillini won eight
Olympic medals, including four golds
The Olympic fencing champion Giovanna Trillini, one of Italy’s most successful female athletes, was born on this day in 1970 in Jesi, a medieval town in the Marche region.

Trillini won the individual gold medal in the foil event at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and was part of Italy’s gold-medal winning group in the team foil at Barcelona in 1992 as well as at Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000.

She competed at five consecutive summer Olympics between 1996 and 2008 and her total medal haul of eight, including one silver and two bronze medals in the individual foil, makes her Italy’s fifth most successful Olympian and the third most successful female competitor.

After winning individual gold in Barcelona, she was honoured by being asked to be the flag bearer for the azzurri team at the opening ceremony for the Games in Atlanta four years later.

Trillini’s career also encompassed 19 medals in world championship events, including nine golds, and six in the European championships.

Born into a sporting family, Trillini was encouraged to take up fencing by her two brothers, Ezio and Roberto, who were both regular competitors in the sport, in which Italy has a long tradition.

She studied at the University of Urbino, graduating in Sports Science, and developed her fencing skills under the master fencer Ezio Triccoli, another native of Jesi, who set up the Club Scherma Jesi in 1947, in order to teach the art he had learned from a British army officer while he was a prisoner of war during World War II.

Trillini on the medal podium after her triumph in Barcelona in 1992
Trillini on the medal podium after
her triumph in Barcelona in 1992
Triccoli, who died in 1996 at the age of 81, was responsible for training numerous champions, including Trillini’s close rival and team-mate, Valentina Vezzali, who was also born in Jesi.

Vezzali won gold in the individual foil at three consecutive games, in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Between them, Trillini and Vezzali dominated the foil scene throughout the 90s and 2000s. Only Vezzali, with six golds, has been more successful than Trillini in terms of Olympic medals.

Trillini won the foil competition at the fencing World Cup four times, in 1991, 1994. 1995 and 1998, but undoubtedly would have been champion on many more occasions but for the presence of Vezzali, four years’ her junior, to whom she was runner-up no fewer than seven times.

At the age of 38, Trillini was a beaten semi-finalist in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, losing 15-10 to Nyam Hyun-Hee of Korea, who went on to lose to Veazzali in the final. She lost to another Italian, Margherita Granbassi, in the third-place final, before announcing her immediate retirement from the sport, claiming that her performance against her opponent in the semi-final had been deliberately undermarked to prevent an all-Italian final.

She made a comeback in 2010 but retired again two years later after failing to reach pre-2008 levels in her performance.

Fencing, which dates back to the Renaissance era in Italy, is a sport in which Italians have enjoyed success throughout the history of the Olympics. 

Seven of Italy’s top 10 Olympians in terms of medals won have been fencers, while no nation has won more gold medals in fencing than Italy, with 49 to date.

It remains Italy’s most successful Olympic sport in all disciplines. The next best in terms of gold medals won is cycling with 33, followed by athletics with 19.

The city of Jesi has well preserved walls built along the lines of its Roman defence
The city of Jesi has well preserved walls
built along the lines of its Roman defences
Travel tip:

Jesi, alternatively spelled Iesi, which was the site of a settlement in the fourth century BC, has developed as an industrial centre but maintains its cultural heritage within perfectly preserved medieval walls, built along the lines of its old Roman defences between the 13th and 14th centuries.  Notable buildings include the Cathedral of San Settimio in Piazza Federico II, the nearby 12th century church of San Floriano, which once contained paintings by Lorenzo Lotto that are now housed in the Pinacoteca Civica.  The Teatro Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, named in honour of the 18th century musician and composer who was born in Jesi, stands in the elegant Piazza della Repubblica.

The Renaissance Palazzo Ducale in Pesaro, one of many attractions away from the beach
The Renaissance Palazzo Ducale in Pesaro, one
of many attractions away from the beach
Travel tip:

Jesi is in the northern part of the Marche region, only 25km (16 miles) from the Adriatic coast and the stretch between Ancona and Pesaro that includes Senigallia and Fano. Like many Italian coastal resorts, the towns and cities in the area popular for their wide expanses of sandy beach also have much history to commend them. Fano, for example, revels in its Roman past, having been established in 49BC by Julius Caesar in 49 BC, when it was named Fanum Fortunae. Caesar Augustus protected the city with monumental walls and the Arco d'Augustus, the primary gateway into the city, still remains, along with some sections of the walls.  Pesaro, which is the region’s second largest city with 94,000 residents, is another magnet for sun-seekers but also boasts a city centre criss-crossed with narrow, medieval streets, several pretty squares and a number of beautiful Renaissance palaces.

Also on this day:

1500: The birth of Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua

1510: The death of Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli

1963: The birth of motorcycle world champion Luca Cadalora 


14 February 2018

Valentina Vezzali – fencer

Police officer is Italy’s most successful female athlete

Valentina Vezzali won nine Olympic medals, including six golds, making her one of fencing's all-time greats
Valentina Vezzali won nine Olympic medals, including six
golds, making her one of fencing's all-time greats
The fencer Valentina Vezzali, whose three Olympic and six World Championship individual gold medals make her Italy’s most decorated female athlete of all time, was born on this day in 1974 in the town of Iesi in Marche.

The 44-year-old police officer, who also sits in the Italian Chamber of Deputies as a representative for Marche, retired from competition after the 2016 World Championships.

Her haul of six Olympics golds in total – three individual and three from the team event – has not been bettered by any Italian athlete, male or female.

Two other Italian fencers from different eras – Edoardo Mangiarotti and Nedo Nadi – also finished their careers with six golds. Fencing has far and away been Italy’s most successful Olympic discipline, accruing 49 gold medals and 125 medals in total, more than twice the number for any other sport.

Alongside the German shooter Ralf Schumann, the Slovak slalom canoeist Michal Martikán and the Japanese judo player Ryoko Tani, Vezzali is one of only four athletes in the history of the Summer Olympics to have won five medals in the same individual event.

Valentina Vezzali sits in the Italian Chamber of Deputies
Valentina Vezzali sits in the
Italian Chamber of Deputies
She is married to the former professional footballer Domenico Giugliano, with whom she has two sons, 12-year-old Pietro and four-year-old Andrea, who was born in May 2013. A few months earlier, Valentina having won her final Olympic gold in the team event at London 2012, where she was also the Italian flag bearer at the opening ceremony.

Born into a family originally from Emilia-Romagna – her father was from Correggio and her mother from Quattro Castella – she grew up in Iesi in the province of Ancona and took up fencing when she was just six years old.

By the time she made her Olympic debut at the Atlanta Games of 1996, Vezzali had already achieved an impressive collection of medals, including a string of golds in junior European and World Championships and her first senior gold, in the team event at the 1995 World Championships.

Her Olympic success story began immediately with team gold and individual silver in Atlanta.  She achieved double gold at the Sydney Games of 2000, defending her individual title successfully in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, which made her the only fencer in Olympic history to win individual gold at three consecutive Games.

In addition her nine Olympic medals won, including a silver and two bronze, at the World Championships Vezzali won 15 gold medals (6 individual and 9 teams), five silver and four bronze, plus 13 European championship golds, four silver and four bronze.

Vezzali with her team gold medal at the  2014 World Championships
Vezzali with her team gold medal at the
2014 World Championships
Vezzali won fencing’s World Cup 11 times, running up a record 67 match victories. She also numbered two golds at the Mediterranean Games, four at the Universiade and 20 Italian titles (11 individual and 9 teams).  The Italian sports newspaper, Gazzetta dello Sport, made her their Italian sportswoman of the year on six occasions.

Since joining the Polizia di Stato – the municipal police force - in which she has risen to the rank of superintendent, Vezzali has competed for the Fiamme Oro, the police sports team.

She had hoped to compete in a sixth Olympics in Rio di Janeiro in 2016 but failed to qualify for the individual competition, while the Games on this occasion did not include a team event.

A celebrity in Italy – she participated in the 2009 series of Ballando con le Stelle (Dancing with the Stars), the Italian version of the hit UK show Strictly Come Dancing – she launched her political career with the 2013 general election, winning a seat in the Chamber of Deputies.

Campaigning on issues that included sport and physical education, health and nutrition and women’s rights, she was elected under the banner of Scelta Civica (Civic Choice), the centrist party founded by former prime minister Mario Monti, although she has since distanced herself from the party over their decision to support Silvio Berlusconi’s more right-leaning Forza Italia at this year’s elections.

The Palazzo Pianetti is one of a number of impressive palaces in Iesi
The Palazzo Pianetti in Iesi
Travel tip:

Situated about 20km (12 miles) inland from the Adriatic coast, Vezzali’s home town of Iesi is impressive for the massive walls that surround its medieval centre, which is built on Roman foundations on a ridge overlooking the valley of the Esino river. The centre of the town is the attractive Piazza Federico II, where a regular market is held, and there are a number of interesting palaces, towers and churches, including a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral.

A porticoed street in Correggio
A porticoed street in Correggio
Travel tip:

The small town of Correggio, where Vezzali’s family originated, can be found in the Po valley, about 20km (12 miles) northeast of Reggio Emilia.  An interesting town full of history, it is thought to have developed around an 11th century castle. Although the original walls were demolished as the town expanded, much of the medieval centre remains. The town was the home of the Renaissance artist Antonio Allegri, also known as Correggio, to whom a monument was created by the sculptor Vincenzo Vela in Piazza Quirino.