Being the deep ignorant I am about sports, I carefully refrained from anything that may remotely sound like technical analysis and I did not want to pile up on the billion comments about these being the more “social” Olympics of all times.
I merely record the obvious: although Italy’s final medal count is not bad, 7 of the 28 medals we got come from a single sport (fencing, and foil in particular) and another 5 from shooting. Volleyball and waterpolo, like all team sports, contribute very little to any country palmarès, but it’s good that we keep up a long standing tradition.
We are nowhere to be found in swimming, athletics, cyclism – what I would call “mass” sports.
All of this reminds me of my first and only professional brush with the Olympics, which was consummated at the Atlanta 1996 edition. Armed with a lot of fantasy we imagined what it would be like to have the Olympics recounted by insiders, and equipped a handful of italian Olympians with laptops and data connections so that they could tell us daily what they were going through.
Remember, no Facebook, no Twitter back then and only a few people had heard of “weblogs” later to be shortnened in blogs, but the name of the game was to pick the right athletes, as we only had a few laptops to distribute.
Well, one of our picks was this guy, and when we did the press event beforehand, I had the pleasure of shaking hands with him.
Somewhere in the archives of IBM there must be a picture of yours truly with this exceptional athlete, even though he did not like taking a picture with me because he’s rather short; I didn’t want to have the picture taken either, as despite his diminutive height, Yuri could break me in two like a breadstick.
Anyway we did, and also chatted pleasantly afterwards; sadly no one though of preserving the memories of those days; in another stark difference, we were not (yet) in the age of default permanent storage of everything we do, say or write. At least in this case, what a loss!