It might be said that behind every sporting champion is a mother who always supported him. That is certainly true of Italian fencer Matteo Tagliariol, who won gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
However, Matteo’s path to Olympic gold was not a smooth one, and five years earlier he had contemplated giving up fencing altogether. It was only the love and support from his mum Francesca that persuaded him otherwise.
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It was his calling, Francesca explains.
“Since he was a child he would say ‘I am going to the Olympic Games and I am going to win.
“Raising an Olympian is absolute. He sacrificed part of his youth.”
However, Matteo’s confidence was severely shaken when, in 2003, he failed to make the World Cup or the Olympic team.
When he wanted to walk away from his sport, it was Francesca’s support and advice that got him through.
“I knew that down the line he would have regretted it. We have a flat by the sea so I thought of taking him there. We talked a lot. I tried to help him understand that this was only a moment that would pass. I was able to make him realise that this was his life.”
These wise words aided a triumphant return to the sport for Matteo, who went on to win gold in Beijing.
“When he scored the last point I started yelling: ‘He’s an Olympic champion! He’s an Olympic champion!’”, says Francesca. “My husband kept saying ‘Be quiet. Be quiet.’
“I was so happy. Not for me, but for him – for I knew he had achieved what he wanted to achieve. This was his dream and it had come true.”
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