Emma Piffaretti, a promising young Swiss athlete, talks about herself and explains how she manages to reconcile her studies and athletics.
The interview was conducted in April 2021 and reviewed in the first half of July 2021.
What role did your parents and coaches play, both in sports and in everyday life?
My parents are all-rounders, they support me in all kinds of situations and are always ready to help, encourage and advise me. They are my mainstay at the moment, and I am grateful to them for what they do and how they understand me even though they are not coaches.
Do you have different coaches for different disciplines?
Yes, at this stage of my activity I have several coaches who specialise in one or more disciplines.
Are there any phrases or mottos to spur you on?
To be honest, it depends on the situation, it can be a phrase (my father has a lot of them) or a mantra, a song… anything that can give me confidence and put me in a good mood.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to get away from athletics and studying, there’s no particular thing, it depends on the moment.
How is your day organised?
Before I graduated, it was divided between school, training and music. Now that there’s no more school, it’s mainly athletics, I like to help out around the house with chores and cooking and then I play the harp… I’m finding a programme.
Among your hobbies is the harp, when did you start playing it?
I started playing the harp when I started doing athletics! It was a big year when I wanted to start different things (laughs). Before the covid, I used to perform and occasionally play in nursing homes. These events are also preparatory for my conservatory exams because they allow me to meet the public.
Will you continue to play the harp after you finish the Conservatory?
The harp will always remain in my heart, it’s a part of me, I’ll always carry it with me and I’ll continue to play it for fun or to let off steam. It has given me so much and allowed me to reconcile school and athletics. I will continue to cultivate this hobby without having to combine it with exams.
Did you take part in the Castles Gala in 2020?
Yes, I took part in the pre-programme where I ran the 100 m while in the programme I ran in the hurdles.
Is there an object, a place, something you are particularly fond of?
I was used from a very young age to quickly change home, language, culture… and so I don’t stick to things, but I discover them, I adapt. At competition level, each race is different from the others, but if one action has led to a good result, I repeat it the next day. I take responsibility for this theory….
Many competitions were cancelled during the lockdown, how did you deal with this situation?
As I mentioned before, during the lockdown in March 2020, I continued to train at home and found the right motivation also thanks to my brothers with whom we used to run competitions. At the beginning I was very surprised by the situation we were experiencing, then I wanted to face it with a more open spirit by telling myself: “it’s a year of transition, of change”. I tried to stay committed to what I was doing by accepting these changes that were affecting everyone, even if in different ways and trying to maintain the rhythm of training.
Were you able to compete this year?
As a member of the cadre, I was able to continue training and competing. For this I would like to thank Swiss Athletics, the national team and the coaches who have worked so hard to enable us to continue training and competing. During this same period, for example, my brother could not train and compete, but he still continued his efforts, training on his own.
What are the next competitions in which you will be involved?
The most important competitions I would like to compete in are the European Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, in early July and the U20 World Championships in early August in Nairobi. There I intend to compete in the long distance and with my teammates in the 4x100m.
And the Olympics?
Of course, I would like to participate but there must be results to confirm my desire. The desire is there, but now I want to concentrate on results. The European Championships are an important goal for that too! I am still young and I would like to prepare for the Paris Olympics in 2024. If the wonderful opportunity to go to Tokyo comes up, I will definitely accept it, but my goals remain the European Championships and the U20 World Championships and trying to improve myself.
Do you have any regrets?
For the moment what I do allows me to gain experience and good memories, I have no regrets. What I have done, I have done by choice and with great passion.
Do you have an idol or an athlete of reference?
Ajla Del Ponte is my idol. I respect all sports figures, but Ajla is someone I really appreciate, she’s a wonderful example for athletics in Ticino and Switzerland.
Do you train with her?
I have trained with her a few times, but our training programmes and places are different.
Why would you recommend someone to participate in the Ascona-Locarno Run?
The region of Ascona and Locarno is spectacular, the runner can enjoy this beautiful landscape during the run. I find it fantastic to be able to bring so many people together: from children to adults, with different interests, to run. Another aspect is the adrenaline that is created on these occasions, and it is nice to set yourself a goal and achieve it. For these reasons I recommend taking part in the Ascona-Locarno Run!
End of interview.