Paltrinieri's "fuse". Italy is world champion in the open water relay

Paltrinieri's "fuse".  Italy is world champion in the open water relay

“I have the impression that to have stimuli it is as if I needed a disappointment”. With Barbara Pozzobon, Ginevra Taddeucci and Domenico Acerenza you won the gold medal in the 4x1500. It had been 21 years since the Azzurri were unable to get on the top step of the podium

Sport always gives you another chance. It's up to you to decide how to use it. Last weekend, in the Italian night between Saturday and Sunday, Gregorio Paltrinieri inaugurated his World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka (Japan) finishing fifth in the 10 kilometers in open water. No podium, no Olympic pass. “I had some health problems throughout the season. Mentally they are there, physically they are not. I've stopped six times since January, I'm missing six weeks of training." Two days later, between Monday and Tuesday, despite a gastrointestinal virus that debilitated him a week before the start of the World Championships, Paltrinieri managed to win the silver medal in the 5km. “I have the impression that to have stimuli it is as if I needed a disappointment. Thus the fuse is lit. I get angry, I take it personally”. Tonight she climbed another step: together with Barbara Pozzobon, Ginevra Taddeucci and Domenico Acerenza, Paltrinieri became world champion of the 4x1500 relay in open water. Italy returned to establishing itself in the team competition 21 years after the gold in Sharm el-Sheikh 2002.

“Does Greg need a beating before he lights up? Well, I'll give it to him in training”, Acerenza joked after the 5 kilometres. She joked but not too much. Do you remember what happened last year at the World Cup in Budapest? In his first race, Paltrinieri finished fourth in the 800m freestyle. Then in the 1500m freestyle, on the last day, he entered the final with the seventh best time, the penultimate time. Lane one, that of the outsiders. And from there he won gold with the second best performance in history, 14'32''80. “Before the race my friends told me that I was quoted at 26 and I thought: how dare they! So is all trust in me gone?” Another disappointment. Another fuse. Another triumph.

Federica Pellegrini also talks about this reservoir of extra motivation in her latest book Oro (La nave di Teseo, 2023). “Sometimes I needed an episode that made me trace the wickedness,” she writes. “A trigger”. The metaphor is always that. “Like when Thomas Ceccon, answering a question from the Gazzetta dello Sport, said that Federica Pellegrini went on swimming only for image. After that serve I won two other World Cups and I feel like thanking him, because it was a good trigger". Or like her when she at the 2008 Beijing Olympics she missed the first race, the 400m freestyle, finishing fifth, and then she took the gold in the 200m she also achieved the new world record.

This must be a characteristic of the champions of the fuse, of the primer. Simona Quadarella made a mistake in the 1500m freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics (fifth) and then she reacted by winning the bronze medal in the 800m. Same script last year in Budapest. How important is the head in sport, eh. Martina Carraro also spoke about it a few days ago on the show “Swim2u”: “When I read Federica's book I found myself very much in the subject of the fuse. There are moments when certain things happen that turn you on. It happened to me last year at the European Championships in Rome with silver in the 200m breaststroke after being excluded from the 100m final. If the two races had been alternated, I would never have won that medal”.

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