Marginalized: Underestimated Italian Men’s Pair Claim Glorious Second in London Rowing Final


Alessio Sartori and Romano Battisti weren’t supposed to be in London. Or so thought Italy’s Rowing Federation.

Neither were they supposed to emerge with a second place finish in the Men’s Pair Rowing Finals – behind New Zealand – after seriously challenging for the victory in the last 500 meters of the race.

But poetic justice won out, as the “odd couple,” comprised of a 35-year-old veteran and his 10-years-younger partner, grabbed hardware for their country with an inspiring performance at the Summer Games.

“We have always believed," Battisti said, shaking off frustrations spawned from an uphill bureacratic battle the team faced to get to London. “We are a crew of a sporting group, le Fiamme Gialle, and according to the Federation, we were not suited to this level of competition.”

The doubters were proven wrong. Big time.

The last section of the race was as intense as they get – as the Italians could almost taste an all out win. It wasn’t quite meant to be, however.

“Honestly, when 500m from the finish we were in first position, we believed in what we were doing. We continued without ever looking, but New Zealand athletes proved to be much stronger and faster,” he added.

The Kiwis overtook the Blue athletes. Nonetheless, it was a very special success of a race for the underestimated duo. Mostly because they weren’t just fighting for their flag or any federation, they had ‘family’ on their minds.

The two spent the year mourning the late Colonel Vincenzo Pai, one of the individuals responsible for pushing the two to greatness in London.

“This is worth more than the other podiums I obtained in Sydney and Athens, emotionally I lived differently,” said Sartori, who racked up major hardware at past Summer Games. “I gave as an athlete finished, today I took out some pebbles from my shoes. I dedicate this result to Colonel Bellantuono, which was a second father to both. If we divide it as you do with a cake, the larger piece goes to us, to our society and to our families. But in the end a piece is even of the Federation, which has allowed us to be here. "


Andrew De Lara


August 02, 2012