Italy goes for the gold

Who to watch in London this summer

Shaina Riley
July 12, 2012

Every four years, people around the globe gather around their televisions to witness the greatest multi-sport competition known to man: the Olympics. This summer, from July 25 to August 12, London has the honor of hosting athletes from every corner of the globe, vying for gold in any of the 35 different sports in the competition.

 

In the history of the Olympics, Italy has taken home 190 gold medals, 158 silver medals, and 174 bronze medals, totaling 522 medals in 25 Olympics appearances, and this summer those numbers are expected to multiply. Not surprisingly, some of the best athletes participating in this year's events come from the Florence area. Here are a few Florentines you should be watching out for and cheering on.

 

Elena Gigli, goalkeeper for the water polo team, previously won the gold medal with her team at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She then took the silver medal in the European championship in 2006 in Belgrade. Despite the talent of the squad, the Women's National Team did not do as well in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, when the team placed sixth, but these athletes hope to come back strong this summer with an all-star group, which also includes Florence native, Allegra Lapi. Lapi joins the National Team in a striker position. She won the gold medal this year at the European Championships, and took second in the same competition in 2006.

The women's national gymnastics team has a strong competitor with Marta Pagnini. In 2011, she stunned everyone by competing in the World Championships for the first time in her career, when she took home the gold for rhythmic gymnastics. She proved her skills and worth to the national team, and will no doubt be a huge asset to their performance this summer.

 

Men's rowing is fortunate enough to have two Florentines grace the Italian team. Francesco Fossi and Lorenzo Carboncini are both esteemed rowers who hope to showcase their skills this summer in London. Carboncini has previously taken the silver medal in the coxless four event at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, while Fossi took third in the 2011 European Championships, also in the coxless four.

 

Niccolò Campriani hopes to use his rifle and sharp aim to take the gold in shooting events as an individual, not with a team. Campriani ranked number twelve in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Men's Air Rifle 10 meters event. He has numerous honors, which include winning the 2010 World Championships in Monacco for 10 meters; winning the 2008 European Championships in Prague for 10 meters, as well as in 2012 for the same competition in Finland.

 

After you have watched and cheered for these brilliant athletes, stay tuned for the Paralympics, which open in London on August 29 and run through September 9. For the first time, three extraordinary Florentine athletes will be representing their home country, participating in tennis and rowing. Marco Innocenti, born in San Casciano Val di Pesa, has been wheelchair-bound since 1989 after a traffic accident. Despite his permanent injuries, he continued to pursue his passion for tennis, and in 2011 won multiple titles. He is currently ranked number one in Italy and 11th in the world in the quad category, and is currently the Italian champion in doubles. Giuseppe Polidori, born in Grosseto, previously competed in the Paralympics for tennis in Athens in 2004, as well as in Beijing in 2008. Polidori has won numerous international titles and tournaments throughout his career. He is currently ranked second in Italy and 21st in the world in the quad category. As a professional rower, Andrea Marcaccini has won both gold and silver in the World Junior class, as well as two gold medals at the Coupe de la Jeunesse. He also holds several Italian titles and is ranked as one of the best in his class.

These are just some of the athletes respresenting Italy. For more information on other stars comepting for Italy this summer in London, see www.londra2012.coni.it (in Italian).

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