“If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.” (Carl Lewis)
Ladies and gentlemen, Italics Magazine announces its 2019 top 10 Italian sportspeople. Victories, records, confirmations, old and new talent. Let me begin by saying that the list is based on my own opinion and therefore it must not only be approved, but also shared. I’m joking, of course. Enjoy the top 10.
10 – Sara Gama
Sara is the captain of the Italian women’s national football team, which this year played in the FIFA World Cup reaching the quarter-finals. This is the best result for the women’s national team since 1991, with the difference that during this World Cup, Italians fans were glued to the television. Sara was born in Trieste to an Italian mother and Congolese father, she is a defender for Juventus and she even has a Foreign Languages and Literature university degree. During the 2018 International Women’s Day, the American multinational company Mattel honored Gama with a special Barbie portraying herself.
9 – Maurizio Sarri
Last May, before signing his contract with Juventus, Maurizio Sarri won the UEFA Europa League as manager of English football side Chelsea FC. The last Italian coach to accomplish this was Alberto Malesani with underdogs Parma, back in 1999. The story of Maurizio Sarri is one-of-a-kind: before starting his extraordinary managerial career he worked as a simple banker, and football was just a hobby. Now he is sitting on the prestigious bench of Juventus, with the daunting task of winning the UEFA Champions League. For now he is already qualified for the round of 16 and ranked first in Serie A.
8 – Francesca Piccinini
Probably the best wing spiker in the history of Italian volleyball. Francesca Piccinini announced her retirement last September, after 25 years of memorable victories, including the World Championship in 2002 and the FIVB World Cup in 2007. Before her great career came to a close, Francesca led her club, AGIL Novara, to its first triumph in the 2019 CEV Champions League. Francesca Piccinini, thanks to her magnificent body, also appeared nude in a calendar by Men’s Health magazine. At 40 years old, someone is still dreaming of seeing her at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
7 – Giampiero Gasperini
Giampiero Gasperini is the Italian football manager of Atalanta, the revelation team of 2019 based in Bergamo, Lombardy. In fact, in the last season, Atalanta reached the Coppa Italia final, loosing to the most titled SS Lazio. Not only that, but in the Italian Serie A Gasperini’s team was classified fourth, getting the direct access to the 2020 UEFA Champions League. And how did that work out for Atalanta? After three consecutive defeats in the group, Gasperini and his boys overturned their destiny. Bergamo will be the smallest city playing the Champions League round of 16 against Valencia.
6 – Elia Viviani
Three years after his historical Olympic gold, Elia Viviani takes over the Italian cycling scene again, triumphing at the European Road Cycling Championships in the Netherlands, after the victory of the other Italian Matteo Trentin the year before. To crown his extraordinary 2019 and his amazing speed there is also the prestigious victory of the 4th stage of Tour de France, therefore becoming the 94th cyclist in the world to have won at least one stage in each of the three Grand Tours: Tour de France, Giro d’Italia (in which Elia was awarded the Points classification in 2018) and Vuelta a España.
5 – Benedetta Pilato
Pilato is the youngest Italian athlete to take part in a world championship, at the mere age of 14. And it wasn’t any debut: in the 2019 World Championship in South Korea, Benedetta won the Silver medal in the 50 meter breaststroke, beat only by the American multiple title winner Lilly King. On December 4, Benedetta’s first gold medal arrived, as in the European Short Course Championships in Glasgow she won the 50 meter breaststroke with a record time of 29″32, a new Italian record and world youth record. Benedetta is predestined to succeed.
4 – Fabio Fognini
In July Fabio Fognini was number 9 in the ATP tennis ranking. Before him, only two other Italian legends like Adriano Panatta and Corrado Barazzutti (Fabio’s current coach) had succeeded to get in the top 10 — in addition to the emerging talent Matteo Berrettini, currently number 8 in the ATP ranking. In April Fognini won the prestigious ATP Monte-Carlo Masters 1000, half a century after the last Italian success. As recognition of his great year, in September Fognini became the first Italian tennis player to take part in the Laver Cup, loosing the match but joining the ranks of the best tennis players worldwide.
3 – Pietro Figlioli
Pietro Figlioli is the captain of the Italy men’s water polo team, well-know as Settebello, one of the most successful sides in the world. Figlioli, together with Figari e Aicardi, were the only veterans of the 2011 World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, when the Settebello won its third championship, playing the victorious final against Spain last July 27, and gifted Italy its fourth world title in the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju (South Korea). Pietro was born in Brasil, but in May 2009 he decided to become an Italian citizen, contributing to extend the legend of the Settebello.
2 – Dominik Paris
The third most successful Italian ski racer of all time carved a magnificent 2019. Dominik Paris won the gold medal of the Super-G at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Åre (Sweden), also winning the World Cup in the same Super-G, after an exciting triple victory in Bormio (Italy), Kvitfjell (Norway) and Soldeu (Andorra). The last Italian success in this event was actually 24 years ago. Dominik’s secret? To have learned about fatigue and a sense of duty when he was a kid, working during the summer in a mountain hut with one hundred twenty cows!
1 – Simona Quadarella
She is undoubtedly the Italian sportsperson of the year and among the best swimmers worldwide! At age of 21, Simona is the current world champion of the women’s 1500 meter freestyle, with the record time of 15:40.89 at the 2019 World Championships in South Korea, where she also got the silver medal in the 800 meter freestyle, shaking the legendary American swimmer Katie Ledecky. Simona is a precocious talent, has been collecting gold medals since she was 16. She entered the Italian hearts in 2018, after three amazing victories at the European Aquatics Championships in Glasgow.