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01 October 2021 | in Winter FISU World University Games

Road to Lucerne 2021: Team Italy inspired to continue strong international showing at Lucerne 2021

Italy's Head of Delegation, Mr Pompeo LeoneFollowing a summer of celebration littered with several sporting successes, Italy’s student-athletes will be inspired to emulate their national heroes ahead of December’s Winter FISU World University Games in Lucerne, Switzerland.


That’s according to their Head of Delegation Mr Pompeo Leone, who has been diligently working to prepare the Italian team since Lucerne was announced as the host of the 30th Winter Universiade in March 2016.


With decades of experience in university sport, which began as a student representative while in his first year studying Civil Engineering at the Sapienza State University of Rome, Mr Leone is no stranger to the organisational requirements needed to prepare a delegation ahead of an event as prestigious as the FISU World University Games, but admits that preparations have been somewhat challenging this time around as a result of the global pandemic.


"In addition to all the challenges to which each of us is called - work commitments, family management commitments, etc. – I believe that the most demanding challenge of the last period has been living with the terrible COVID-19 pandemic," he says. "There was always the constant concern that the FISU Games might be postponed, but as managers we remained on track regarding the organisation of this important trip while reminding the athletes to maintain their physical preparations."


Mr Leone feels that this year's event, scheduled to take place from December 11-21, will be of particular importance, signaling respite and much-needed positive impetus following a difficult year for all.


"Generally an international event such as the FISU Games are always important, but these Games in this particular moment, marked by the pandemic and therefore the isolation and reduction of normal daily relationships, have the function of a breath of oxygen after a long run, or a sip of spring water after a desert hike," he says.


Ahead of Lucerne 2021, Mr Leone says he is looking forward to friendship and camaraderie both on and off the field of play.


"I expect good participation of students in quantitative terms, and also look forward to meeting again, in person, with so many executive colleagues with whom it was not possible to contact in recent times, except in webinars, which were very useful but too aseptic," he says.


Italy as a country has certainly enjoyed a sensational summer in sporting terms: the Italian delegation achieved a record-high 40 medals, including ten golds, at this year's Olympic Games in Tokyo, as well as an impressive 69 medals at the Paralympic Games, ending the Games in ninth place which was their joint-highest finish since the 1968 edition. At a European level, the men's football team emerged victorious at EURO2020, while both the women's and men's volleyball teams were crowned champions at the 2021 European Volleyball Championships. Mr Leone feels the country's strong showing on the international sporting stage will serve as an inspiration for the 34 student-athletes making up the 52-strong delegation for December's Games, and hopes this summer's success will continue into Lucerne's winter.


"I think pressure can come from the excellent results that Italian sport has achieved in the Olympics and Paralympics," he notes. "In sports it is very nice and exciting to participate, but getting good results generates positive vibes that extend with amplified intensity even to the audience watching from the outside. This positive excitement gives a resilient drive that disposes well towards the adversities that everyone is forced to face in daily life."


Having attended several summer and winter editions of the FISU World University Games in the past, Mr Leone acknowledges the importance such events have in shaping the lives of all participants who attend.


"According to my direct experience and from testimonies collected in previous editions in both winter and summer, the experience of a Universiade indelibly marks every person who takes part in it as well as all the different relationships that come into play in the special condition of community to which for 15 days all the participants get involved."


On a personal front, Italy's Head of Delegation says he is constantly inspired by each set of athletes he manages, as he continues to make a positive impact on university sport in his country.


"I love my work because I have chosen it, because it gives me the possibility to manage it completely from quality to execution, and because it allows me to be constantly in relationship with many and always different people, as well as work that is always different from the previous one."


Italy's delegation is no doubt in safe hands as they count down to the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade, looking to add to the three-medal tally earned at Krasnoyarsk 2019.


Images courtesy of CUSI


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