{mosimage}Another interesting interview on Schermaonline.com this time with Valentina Vezzali, one of the greatest foil fencers ever. Valentina has been on maternity leave since her gold medal at the Athens Olympics. On June 9 she became a mother for the first time of a baby boy named Pietro. What follows are excerpts from the full interview on Schermaonline.com covering her return to competitive fencing as a new mother, her thoughts about current foil fencing and the future.



Did you resume your training [after the birth of your baby Pietro]? Tell us about your training workouts with your physical conditioning trainer Annalisa Coltorti.

I resumed on June 27. I train Monday to Saturday. Monday and Tuesday, twice a day. The first week I worked only in the gym, easy walking on the treadmill, exercises for the leg muscles, and light work with weights to regain the general muscular tone. In the second week I started some swimming in the pool. Now I am in the third week and beside swimming and muscular strengthening, I make the transition from walking to running, always on the treadmill. Next week I intend to start jogging outdoors.

Training aside, I monitor very carefully my diet as an athlete.

For the time being, I feel good and my recovery between training sessions is excellent. I must also say that training and breast feeding don't really interfere much neither in the quantity nor in the intensity of the physical efforts. I just must keep in mind the extra energy consumption tied with the physical activity [while breast feeding my baby].

In conclusion, I'm so happy and feel so motivated that I have no problem at all, at least for now.

Specifically about fencing, what is the program that you and your Maestro, Giulio Tommasini have planned? Do you think that you'll be ready to participate in the World Championships in Leipzig with serious chances of victory? What does the CT Andrea Magro [the national technical director of women's foil fencing] think about it?

As I said before, I'll focus my training in July to get back in good physical shape. In August I'll resume my technical training in preparation of the national training retreats in September, before the world championships.

My Maestro will be back from vacation by the end of July, and I agreed with the CT Magro, that I'll move to Rome [to the national training center] with my baby Pietro and my mother Enrica for a more focused fencing preparation. I'll try to do better every day.

We also agreed with Andrea Magro that I'll participate to the world championships, obviously only if I'll have a reasonable chance to be competitive, i.e., to go there and try to win.

An athlete like me who has won everything must always find new motivations. Just to be able to participate in the world championships after the birth of my baby is for me an enormous incentive. I'm confident that I'll be competitive again and I have complete trust in those who follow and assist me in this endeavor, my maestro Giulio Tommasini and my physical conditioning trainer Annalisa Coltorti.

How will you manage the national training fencing camps and the competitions? Will your husband Mimmo Giugliano [a professional soccer player] help you?

As I said before, during training and competitions my mother will help a lot. She'll take care of the baby when Mimmo and I will be busy.

A technical question. What do you think about the new rules in foil fencing put in place at the beginning of the season? Do you think that they may cause you problems in the way you fence?

I don't know it yet. In the last few months all I did was to take care of my pregnancy and now of my baby. I don't really have the slightest idea about the current situation and therefore I cannot express an opinion.

Do you agree with the policy of the FIE President M. Roch to promote fencing also in countries where up to now this sport was unknown?

To expand and promote fencing to the largest number of countries possible and to make our sport more popular are very positive things.
But, to completely turn upside down a weapon, I don't think it's right.
However, Roch is the boss and if you want to practice this sport, you must adapt to the rules.

Do you thing that it is possible — as some are saying — that women's foil will be finally eliminated from the Olympic games? In such an unfortunate eventuality, what would you do?

Everything is possible with Roch. In any case, if something like this should happen, I'd move on to epee, also because I trust the help of my Maestro who is an excellent epee coach as well. As a matter of fact, he trained for many years the great French epee fencer Riboud, Olympic Champion in Moscow in 1980.


Who is the opponent you fear the most in anticipation of your reentry in competitions?

I've been asked this question many times and I always answer the same way. I am afraid only of myself, but not because I am presumptuous. I just think that if I feel good and if I am ready, I must not fear anybody. This is, in my opinion, what gives you the psychological winning edge. It is sometimes more important than the physical component.

Who among the Italian young women foil fencers impresses you the most? Who could become really strong?

Arianna Errigo. I like very much her technique and her character. She'll go far, I'm sure. She's got something more than all the others.

Who is the strongest female foil fencer you've ever known who has had the greatest influence on you?

Anja Fichtel: she was my idol. Ever since I was 15 years old, I was admiring her because she was always winning and I was hoping to become as strong as she was.

And men foil fencers?

The Russian Romankov: he was super. I'm sorry that he never won at the Olympics because in my opinion he was one of the best fencers of all times.


Valentina Vezzali, 31 years old, born in Jesi, Italy
Olympic Champion (individual gold): Sydney 2000
and Athens 2004
Olympic Champion (team gold): Atlanta 1996
and Sydney 2000
Silver medal individual Atlanta Olympics 1996
Three times World Champion (individual gold): 1999, 2001, 2003
Five times World Champion (team gold): 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001
Eight time winner of the World Cup Foil (points)
Two times European Champion (individual gold): 1999, 2001
One time European Champion (team gold): 1999
Gold medal at the Mediterranean Games: 2001
Ten times Italian Champion (individual)
eight of which consecutive, from 1994 to 2001.