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05 August 2021 | in Summer FISU World University Games

Italian sport shooter Campriani reflects upon ten-year anniversary of Shenzhen 2011 success

Niccolo Campriani at the Shenzhen 2011 Summer Universiade[Watch the full interview on Youtube]


Niccolo Campriani made his mark winning three gold medals in sport shooting at the Shenzhen 2011 Summer Universiade.


It was a memorable performance that propelled the Italian student athlete to greatness in his sport, both at the shooting range and beyond.


“I performed very well – 2011 was really my year together with 2012,” Campriani tells Brian Pinelli in the latest edition of the FISU University Legends Interview Series. “I was at the top of the game and it was a great competition.”


“We’re not used to competing in multi-sport events in general,” he says. “Now we have the European Games, but the first one was in 2015, so before that it was the closest thing I had to simulate the Olympic Village – more than anything it was the Universiade.


“It’s a special feeling – you have the amazing opportunity of living in the Village and meeting athletes from other sports, other countries and all from very different communities,” Campriani said. “I enjoyed it quite a lot.”


One year later, having firmly established himself as one of the world’s elite sport shooters and a favorite at the London 2012 Olympics, Campriani managed his nerves and won gold and silver medals, respectively, in the 50-meter three-position rifle and ten-meter air rifle events.


“I went to the Olympic final in London with a lot of tools at my disposal and I was ready to use them all – having a plan B, plan C, plan D, which is exactly what you need for an Olympic final,” Campriani revealed.


“My hand was shaking and my heart was racing at the Olympic final – that’s fine, it’s how you deal with it.”


Campriani remained at the top of his craft winning two more gold medals, in those same two events, four years later at Rio 2016.


Having fired some 40,000 shots in competition over the course of his decorated sixteen-year, sport shooting career, Campriani retired following the Rio Olympics final to pursue new endeavors.


Campriani, 33, born and raised in Florence, attended West Virginia University in the United States, where he earned his degree in mechanical engineering.


The Italian athlete attributes much of his success to the United States’ National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) system, which develops collegiate athletes, while providing a four-year education.


“It was incredible – it was one of the most important life experiences that I ever had living by myself, overseas far away from my family,” Campriani said.


“I’m very much attached to the student athlete label – I always cared about development outside of sport and that’s what I did.”


From his undergraduate studies in the United States to his noble performance in Shenzhen, China, the Italian speaks fondly of his times as a student athlete.


“That Universiade is another opportunity to say yes, I’m an athlete, but also I’m an engineer,” he said.


‘Make a Mark’ Project

Campriani greatly anticipates Tokyo 2020. It will be his fourth Olympic Games, however, he will take on a new role coaching two athletes – Mahdi Yovari and Luna Solomon. Both qualified for the Games, under Campriani’s mentorship, as Yovari will represent his native Afghanistan, while Salomon will compete under the Olympic flag as a member of the IOC’s Refugee Olympic Team.


“I’m very proud of them and the journey – I know that Tokyo will be a very special experience for them,” Capriani says.


Yovari and Salomon are both students of Capriani’s Make a Mark, a project that he founded in 2019 aiming to locate, introduce and mentor refugees and other forcibly displaced individuals in high-level sport.


“It’s very much a privilege to be part of this project,” Campriani says. “As an Italian, the refugee cause is something very close to my heart. It’s on the front page everyday and in a way almost very political, so it was time to take a stand and at the same time give back.”


“I believe that my role as an Olympic champion didn’t end with the last shot of the last competition – I still had a role to play.”


“It’s a way to give back and have some closure from a very long career,” the Italian says about Make a Mark. “I’m glad that in a way it gives meaning to what I’ve done as an athlete.”


As the Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame is extinguished, Campriani will pass the Make a Mark torch to Spanish Olympic archery champion Juan Carlos Holgado, who will lead the program’s next class of athletes towards Paris 2024.


“Ideally, I wanted to inspire other Olympians to take the baton and do the same thing, giving back specifically to the refugee community and why not train other refugees for Paris 2024,” Campriani said.



Written by Brian Pinelli


Follow Brian on Twitter - @Brian_Pinelli


Photo credit: Ferraro GMT CONI, Make A Mark, IOC