Tokyo – There is a Superhero in the water of the Tokyo Olympic swimming pool. He has a black cap with the tricolor on the side. He starts from lane 8 in the men’s 800 freestyle final (for the first time in the Olympics program). His name is Gregorio Paltrinieri. The man who never gives up, the guy who always sees the positive in the negative. The swimmer who is not satisfied and always tries to climb new heights, setting himself increasingly difficult goals.
The resourceful man achieves a miracle. In Italy it is 3 am and it really seems to be dreaming. All with bated breath for almost 8 minutes. The boy from Carpi is silver with 7’42 ”11. It is a great time trial. But the story of how this result came about is extraordinary, amazing, incredible. Because Super Greg didn’t even have to swim this race.
One month after the Olympics comes the mononucleosis, sneaky opponent, with no specific cure other than rest. And then the blue, gold in Rio in the 1500s, rests. A month between absolute rest and a few “baths”. Then it picks up slowly.
But time is running out, there are the five-circle Games, already postponed for a year. From the European Championships in Budapest, where he had won everything, to the underworld, with his head full of ghosts. Beside him his staff and the federal doctor, the Genoese Lorenzo Marugo, who has always known that superheroes can also go against an exact science like medicine. Paltrinieri arrives in Japan close to the races, enters the 800 finals by the broken cap. He has already won by participating.
But he is Gregorio Paltrinieri, pride made to be human and then it is not enough for him. In the final it turns. He starts like a bomb, as if he were swimming a 100. The opponents underestimate him and he is always ahead, as in a fairytale. 1’52 “86 to 200. 3’50” 55 to 400 with 1 second ahead of the super-favorites Romanchuk and Wellbrock.
Everyone expects Gregory to collapse, but he always pushes on the accelerator. Always first up to 750 where Romanchuk surpasses him by 1 tenth. But the blue sprint, no one knows where you find the energy. From lane 3 comes the opponent you don’t expect, the American rookie Robert Finke. He swims a last 50 from 26 ”39 and wins gold with 7’41” 87, but Greg is silver. Romanchuk bronze e off the podium an incredulous German Wellbrok. A silver that is worth gold.
And this time it’s not really a cliché, but reality. A miracle “to say a miracle is little” says the Italian “not even I would have bet on myself. I looked like another person compared to the drums. Last night I got a message from a friend of mine saying ‘swim with your heart. The finals are won with the heart ‘. And then I thought about my career. I’ve always used my head too much. I’ve always planned everything. I’ve always had too many ideas and confused. And so I listened to my friend. I swam with my heart. The others were physically better than me, but this time I really wanted to be a superhero. In May I felt like a God with 5 medals around my neck, the last one month ago. It wasn’t easy ”.
Mononucleosis is a nasty beast: “It knocks you down physically and mentally. When I started swimming again, I couldn’t keep up with the girls. Then slowly I began to train again with my teammates, but time was short. But now I’m here looking at this medal, fruit of courage ”.
If you look at it and this silver is about it. Then he thinks about it a bit and says “but it could have been gold … “.
He laughs, but Paltrineri is reborn: “I have to stay focused. On the 31st I have the 1500 and on the 5th August the 10 kilometers. I want to play it ”. An athlete, a truly unique man. However the other races turn out, the emotions given away in the 800s have been the strongest so far experienced at this Olympics.
Sixth in the final of the 100 freestyle, won by Caleb Dressel with 47 “02, Alessandro Miressi. Closes in 47 “86. He dreamed of the bronze: “Too bad, I didn’t enter the race. With my staff I could have gone to the podium, but I can’t complain. An Olympic final in the 100 is really a lot of stuff ”.
The cents mock Alberto Razzetti. The Ligurian closes in ninth place the semifinals of the 200 mixed. 1’57 “70. Out of the final for only 6 cents. The weather is not bad if you consider that the boy from Sestri Levante made a mistake in the back / breaststroke tack and the finish in freestyle.
But in the breaststroke he was perfect and the mindset was always the right one. He would have deserved the second final at his first Olympics, but Italnuoto is certain to have found a solid and constantly improving athlete for the future “I was hoping to get in because an Olympic final is an honor, but above all to redeem today’s proof. I didn’t like it yet I was there with the best. Luck has been with me so many times. Not today, but swimming is also this. It was a wonderful experience ”.
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