Alessandra Vitale is a winner.
10 years ago she won the most important battle, the one against osteosacoma. Today she is the Ambassador of Paralympic Sports and Captain of the Italian National Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team, vice-champion of Europe. She has become a sports icon, an example of determination, strength and optimism and she is one of the 113 Italians called up for the Tokyo Paralympics.
We joined her for a short interview during her retreat in Japan.
Alessandra, going to the Olympic Games is not something that just happens, it is the result of commitment, work and determination. When did you decide that you would go to Tokyo and what emotions do you feel about representing Italy in an event like this?
“Participation in the Tokyo Paralympics is the strongly desired result of a very intense and focused work to which many components have contributed. With the new coach, the Brazilian Amauri Ribeiro, multi-medalist and very experienced, the approach and intensity of training have completely changed, which are very important because if the fundamentals are always those of volleyball, in sitting volley the physical preparation is completely different. The support of the federation was also very important. The frequency and duration of the gatherings have been significantly increased and the results have been seen. When we defeated Germany in the European Championship semi-final we knew we were going to participate in the Olympics. It was the realization of a dream and obviously now the emotion is great. There is great desire, trust and awareness in our means. ”
What made you fall in love with sitting volleyball? It is a relatively young discipline for Italy that starts back in the international ranking but is rising rapidly so much that you are vice champions of Europe, second only to Russia, World Champion. What are your thoughts as captain of the national team?
“The Italian National Sitting Volleyball team was born in 2015, the other national teams are much older and have had time to climb the international ranking but in recent years many of these national teams have been beaten by Italy on several occasions. It must be said that teams change a lot over time and therefore you are never sure who you will really meet on the pitch regardless of the team name. But this makes everything much more beautiful and interesting. The Italian national team has also changed a lot. Compared to the first call in 2015, only me and two other teammates remained, all the others are new as well as the coach and these changes have brought a lot in terms of technical rate, experience and methodology. As a captain I know we can do well, I feel a lot of determination and a great responsibility. The group is very close and there are many points of reference, I am one of the oldest and I am the captain with great pleasure and pride.”
We have seen so many good stories in the Olympic Games that have just ended. What is the importance of having faced and overcome great difficulties in the ability to succeed? What are the motivation mechanisms when a challenge becomes difficult?
“From this point of view there is no difference between Paralympic sports and others. Facing and overcoming difficulties gives you a great awareness of your means, makes you grow and prepares you to face and overcome other battles. Sport in particular gives you an opportunity for redemption, they are double medals that give important reasons for addressing all the concerns that arise from everyday life. I feel lucky. Because of osteosarcoma I had to sacrifice a lot, but now I am a completely different person and I discovered that I had resources that I did not suspect. In terms of motivation, you must always have great confidence. I felt that I would be healed and I never thought for the worst. ”
How important is it to have reference points or examples to be inspired by? What are your inspirations in sport and in life?
“Definitely my children. They gave me the strength to fight and never give up, and also my parents who have always been there and have been very important. Outside the family I looked at people who have had problems similar to mine and who have been able to react, such as Alex Zanardi who was truly a great inspiration for me. The key is to be reborn and the fact of being an ambassador for Paralympic sports puts me continuously in contact with many people and athletes, even if not famous, who are exceptional people and are great examples of strength and determination. ”
Your testimony is precious: you bring your extraordinary example and your optimism to the children in the schools, and you are responsible for the AISOS volunteers for Campania. What is your message for the children and young people who are now facing the difficult path against osteosarcoma and who will see you compete with the blue jersey in Tokyo?
“It’s something I really like. I find it easy to talk and communicate positivity to other people. The message is to never give up for any reason and always fight to the last ounce of strength. All problems have solutions. You may not be able to see them but they are there. Sometimes it is enough to look at the problem from other points of view. Even when it feels like you are in a great dark tunnel you have to seek the light, follow it and believe in it to find the strength.”
Thanks Alessandra, we at AISOS are proud of you and it is a great pride to have you by our side. We can’t wait to see you fight on the pitch in Tokyo with your determination. Good luck!
Come on Alessandra Vitale! Come on Azzurre !!!