Photo courtesy of D. Angelella – © Ti-Press / A.Crinari

Never give up!

Ticino Absolute Championships 2020.

The day of the cloudburst, the day when everything seemed to go wrong, but also the day of his record on the 100 m at the age of 29 and the gold medal on 100 m.

Do not miss the advice to the runners of the Ascona-Locarno Run, more will follow in part three!

Enjoy your reading.

What have been your best sporting achievements?

Can I tell you more than one? I will mention a few that I am particularly fond of.
My first international experience was at the under-20 European Championships in Serbia in 2009 in the 400 m. It was a bit of a stepping stone for me because I realised that I could be competitive at international level.
My best performances include the European Championships in Zurich in 2014 with the 4×400 m relay. This race has been my goal since I started competing. To be able to participate after pursuing this goal for 6/7 years was great.
As an elite sportsman in the recruit school, I was able to participate in the 2015 World Military Games in South Korea in the 400 m and 4×400 m relay, which was a wonderful experience.
It was beautiful, it is a sporting event with the disciplines present in the Olympic Games but reserved for military athletes from all over the world.
In 2017 I took part in the Lausanne Diamond League by running the 400 m in the B race in 46”88. On this occasion I set a personal best, which allowed me to “pull out the ticket” for the Universiade in Taipei and the Francophonie Games in Ivory Coast, also in 2017.
In addition, I ran the 400 m at the Swiss Athletics Championships in Zurich in 2017 (bronze medal in a thrilling final with a 46”98, ed.) and the 100 m at the 2020 Ticino Championships in Bellinzona in 10”72, my personal best (and VIRTUS Locarno social record, ed.).
2017 was the year of my most important records and my qualification as a doctor, while in 2020 setting my personal best in the 100 m at almost 30 years of age was extremely exciting.
There have been other championships and Diamond Leagues I have participated in, but these are the most significant ones for my racing career.

Are there any memories you would like to share with us?

2014, the year in which my childhood dream came true.
Participating in the 2015 World Military Games, which I mentioned earlier, was definitely a very nice experience in an “exotic” country.
Another unforgettable experience was the Golden Gala in Rome in 2012 with the 4×400 m relay when I saw Usain Bolt live for the first time. It was exciting to warm up in the same warm-up field!

You saw Usain Bolt! Is he your idol?

Usain Bolt is definitely an idol for me.

But is he YOUR idol?

Usain Bolt is my idol, but MY idol is the former American athlete Jeremy Wariner, the 400 m specialist.

Are there any anecdotes you would like to share with us?

An anecdote? Winning the Ticino Championships in Bellinzona on 29 August 2020 (gold in the 100 m on 29 August and in the 200 m on 30 August, ed.).
I set my personal best in the 100 m but it was an adventure! On the day of the race, which was to take place in the afternoon, there was a cloudburst in the Locarno region (remember that? ed.). In the morning, as I had just returned from Zug, I went for a coffee with a friend in Minusio. I left to go home to Quartino, but just then all the roads were flooded, and I was completely stuck on the T21 between Minusio and Riazzino. So I was starting to think that I would have a lighter lunch than usual, the race was at 3pm, but that I would still make it home. After 1 hour, I was still standing in exactly the same spot, it was 12 o’clock, and the race time was starting to get closer and closer. At one point the cars started to move, some people were even passing on the fields. At that moment I decided not to go towards Quartino but to turn towards Riazzino where there is a train stop. I parked and took the first train that passed by. I arrived in Bellinzona 45 minutes before the race, without spiked shoes or sports clothes. It was freezing cold, I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, no jacket. I walked from the Bellinzona train station to the stadium. Luckily, a training partner was there, and he brought me his sister’s and dad’s clothes, so I dressed in what I had available. I was always without my spiked shoes. I started to warm up anyway. Luckily, 2 minutes before the race a friend arrived with my spiked shoes. I managed to run in my spiked shoes even though I was wearing other people’s tank tops and shorts and qualified for the final. This whole stressful situation gave me a migraine. First the qualification made in this situation, then the very strong migraine that had never happened to me during a competition. The final would take place after one hour. I did not know what to do. In addition to the headache, it started to pour again. I thought to myself ‘no, it can’t all go so wrong after 2 years of winning the 100 m Ticino Championships’. Then I started in the pouring rain with a migraine and set my personal best. The result was really surprising. It seemed to be an uphill day: not knowing whether I would be able to get to the races in time, then the clothes, the shoes, the migraine before the final and finally the downpour… even in sprinting, if it is pouring, the conditions are not ideal for setting a record. What happened gives me the awareness that even if the conditions are difficult you must not give up and results can come!

What are your next goals?

To continue doing athletics as I am doing now, which is for pleasure, and to focus on the 100 m and 200 m, training with my current group with whom we have a lot of fun. I would like to continue to be as competitive as I was in 2020 and aim for medals at the Swiss Championships.

How do you reconcile work, study, and sport?

It takes a lot of organisation and you must structure the moments of the day. The moments dedicated to study are dedicated to study and not to anything else like “chatting” on social networks. You have to be very effective in what you do: when I train, I train and do nothing else and when I study, I study and do nothing else. Staying focused on what you are doing allows you to optimise the time you spend studying or training.

Any advice you would like to give to a runner?

Run for pleasure by following a plan, it should not be an obsession. If you want to take part in a race, I recommend that you plan your training according to the race. It must be a pleasure, and when it is no longer a pleasure it is better to give up or reduce the intensity and quantity. The important thing is to plan. For example, if a runner wants to run 4’30” per kilometre, it is important that he sets himself this objective and adapts his training accordingly. Very often a person sets the goal of running 4’30” per km but then does not set intermediate goals, dates, or deadlines. So, it could happen that he leaves home to run 4’30” per km, does it 5 times a week and then sooner or later gets injured. Setting yourself a goal allows you to: 1) find a motivation, 2) plan, 3) differentiate your training. This allows you to arrive ready for the race you want to take part in by running at 4’30” per km.

What does run mean to you?

For me it means balance: a balance between my private life, work, and competition. It is an escape valve, but it’s also my social life in the sense that I’ve met my closest friends largely through athletics (not all of them, obviously I also have a lot of ‘outside’ friends).
It is a healthy sport. A beautiful thing? I used to go out in the evenings with athletes from other clubs, even opponents. The great thing is that even though it is not a typical team sport, you create bonds and cohesion. Even if everyone competes for themselves on the track, a group is created outside because you share a passion, values, and interests. There is respect for what another athlete does, and you manage to go beyond the competition and create very strong friendships. There is competition on the track but not off.

Who do you have to thank?

First, my family because they allowed me to do what I did. They have always supported me emotionally and financially. Doing sport at this level does not allow you to work, study and train at the same time. When I was studying, I trained 6 times a week, it would not have been possible to work. So, they helped me financially to support my expenses while I studied away from home. Special thanks to my dad who has been a dad, coach, and supporter! He always supported me in my choices and helped me make decisions. I would also like to thank my training partners, with whom I shared not only training and results but who were also a source of motivation. Last but not least, my friends and the VIRTUS Locarno club who have always supported me on various fronts.

The third part of the interview will be published at the end of March.