Skip to content
Home News Forza Italia! Oops!… They did it again

Forza Italia! Oops!… They did it again

Summer Games 8 August 2023

“We are not going to celebrate our victory. We have practice in the evening and an early flight tomorrow. Then we go back to swimming,“ joked Italy’s head coach Daniele Bettini after his team’s 13-11 victory over Hungary in the men’s water polo final of the Chengdu FISU World University Games, Tuesday afternoon.

A fight for gold is always filled with tension.
The stakes are, obviously, always high. Especially for a nation aiming to defend a FISU title.
Federico Neri Panerai (Italy) during the men’s water polo final against HungaryOn the final day of action in Chengdu, Stefano Guerrato’s goal to cap off Italy’s first attack of the contest got things going for the defending champions, who triumphed on home soil at Napoli back in 2019.

Federico Neri Panerai of Team Italy is in competition.

By halftime, the Italians had built an 11-5 lead.
In the second half, the Hungarians improved their performance and dominated the final 16 minutes of play 6-2 but it wasn’t enough.
Hungary still improved from a third-place finish in 2019.

“Winning this tournament is a very important responsibility for me and for my team. I don’t know the words to express my happiness and joy,” said captain Eduardo Campopiano, one of four returning players from the Napoli championship squad.

Italy became the fifth team in history to win back-to-back FISU titles in the sport. Silver medallist Hungary has accomplished the feat twice.

In addition, the Azzurri have been on the podium at the last four Summer Games, having also claimed silver at Gwangju 2015 and bronze at Taipei 2017.

Legacy leads to responsibility. Responsibility leads to pressure.

Italy shows off its gold medal from men’s water polo

But not for Italy’s el capitano, who said, “It’s not pressure, it’s a pleasure to play this game.”

As an experienced player, the 26 year-old was also a source of advice for his younger teammates.

“I told them that it is not important to play for yourself, but to play for the team and do our best.”

A complete team effort took their country’s gold medal tally in China to 17, tying South Korea for third place overall.

“Every time we talked as a team, our goal was to win the gold medal and nothing else. We did it perfectly. This is the result,” said Francesco de Michelis about the team’s ambitions.

With the victory at the Modern Pentathlon Centre Swimming & Fencing Hall, the Italians secured their best result ever at the World University Games as a delegation, with 56 medals, including 17 gold, 18 silver and 21 bronze.

The Italian women’s water polo team contributed to the tally with a silver medal following a 12-7 loss to China in the final.

In the men’s bronze-medal match on Tuesday, Georgia beat the United States 12-7.

While the future may often seem uncertain, one thing is clear for Bettini.

“My plan for the future is to win again. One of my best friends told me that the best victory is always the next one.”

And the next opportunity – at the university level – will be at the Rhein-Ruhr 2025 FISU World University Games.

Written by Andjela Cegar, FISU Young Reporter