Home Sports Manfredi Rizza: “It hurts me not to have won the gold, the future lies in the 500-meter races up to Paris”

Manfredi Rizza: “It hurts me not to have won the gold, the future lies in the 500-meter races up to Paris”

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The interview

Ten days have passed since the sleepless night that delivered the Pavia of the canoe to Olympus. Manfredi Rizza’s silver at Tokyo 2020 is already history: a 35,080 second long revolution, the time to wear a medal desired by a whole career. The wait for the final, the exit from the blocks, the central progression, the joy at the finish line, the hug with his coach, the tears after the race, the party.

Rizza, did you manage to realize what happened?

«Time is helping me to understand for real – replies the 30-year-old champion who grew up at Canottieri Ticino – The initial euphoria is passing, giving me the opportunity to reflect and I must admit that at this moment it hurts me not to have won the gold. However, I have nothing to complain about, I did a race well beyond my means: I really gave everything, bringing out even what was not there. It burns a bit because I know that I will not have the chance to repeat myself in K1, which will leave the Olympic program ».

What is the most vivid memory of the final?

“I remember getting settled on the block. Historically on big occasions I always drooled the first shots; before the final I was badly positioned but fortunately I had the clarity to reposition myself which allowed me to have a better starting point in the early stages of the race. When I got out of the blocks well, I thought I could do it ».

The most exciting moment?

«When at the end of the final they called me to go to the boat weight. There I realized that I had made it. I initially thought I was third, then I found out I was second ahead of Liam (reigning British Olympic and world champion Heath). When I returned from the sabbatical, I had set myself the goal of beating everyone who had preceded me in Rio; in Tokyo I was only missing Liam and there could be no better time to leave him behind me ».

A year ago, in an extremely complicated season for the pandemic, she was left out of the World Cup final, now she has Olympic silver around her neck. Would he ever have said that?

“Absolutely not. September and October 2020 were the most difficult time. The World Cup was too close to the Italian championships and it was a fiasco, then I took Covid: it was six tough weeks and an athletic drama.But there was the turning point, I transformed the nervousness into a desire to do something. determination and concentration that I brought all the way to Tokyo ».

From Covid to Tokyo through constant growth, what was the keystone of the season?

«It was without doubt the best season of my career. The turning point was the mental approach: there was a great desire for revenge. I also knew it was my last chance to excel on the 200m, inside or out. I wanted to play it all out, with no regrets. The more difficult the situation was to manage, the more I responded well, in every difficulty I found my strength ».

The immediate programs?

«From 18 to 22 August I will be in the United States for an event race they invited me to, then again on vacation. I will certainly not compete with the Italians ».

Will we see her again at the Copenhagen World Cup in September? “I do not know. Honestly, I have no intention of doing K1 at the World Championships, it would not be fair to the other Italian athletes who will train to the maximum throughout this period. We will instead evaluate the possibility of competing with Andrea Di Liberto for K2 in an attempt to follow up on the European title won in June ».

Is Paris 2024 a dream or a goal?

“It’s hard to say right now. Going from 200 to 500 meters will not be easy. I will try to get back in shape over the longer distance and I will do my best to help the team grow the youngest by making available all the experience I have accumulated over the years. I’m someone who flies low, I don’t want to make any predictions: it’s about doing something new. We work for Paris but in small steps ».

Many of his opponents have competed in K4 500 meters, some with success, some less. Will he imitate them or will he try his hand at the K2 500 with Di Liberto?

“Those are two valid options. In K2 there is room for doing well. But first of all we will have to understand where we are and what margins we have from the point of view of performance, then we will set our goals ».

Farewell to the K1 200?

«It will happen to do it again, but it will no longer be a goal except for special events. Now the goal is 500 meters ».

On several occasions he recalled the great contribution received by the Air Force, his technician Stefano Loddo and his family. Is yours a shared success?

«It is a medal for everyone and for all those people who worked and spent themselves for me. The Air Force gave me very precious logistical and practical support, put a team at my service: there are many aspects in addition to training that must be taken care of in the best possible way: the supplementary food aspect was the first; the nutritionist made me take giant steps, the mental coach accompanied me step by step. With Stefano we found the right place to talk on a technical and programming level, when I was wrong it was up to him to get me back on track. Then there is my family, my girlfriend Ginevra: they saw everything from behind the scenes, starting with my difficulties and they never stopped supporting me ».

Then there is the Canottieri Ticino, the great welcome at the airport and the party in society.

«There is a special bond with Canottieri, their support and affection are unique. My thanks go to them too .. To the youngsters I remember the words of my first coach Antonio Mortara before each match, “be careful and hit hard”, in dialect. It was the mantra that guided me throughout my career, up to the Olympic medal ». –

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