Vanessa Ferrari

Vanessa Ferrari, the Hannibal of gymnastics

During day two at Olympics, Vanessa Ferrari surprised with her performance in artistic gymnastics. On the notes of Con Te Partirò by Bocelli, the Italian athlete gained her spot in the final. Even in front of the American Simone Biles, the all-time favorite. During her career, she had five surgeries and more than once she though about quitting.

From butterfly to Hannibal

Born in 1990, Vanessa Ferrari started gymnastics when she was 7. She saw another athlete on TV and she fell in love with the sport. Her mother had enrolled into dance, but she had no intention of dancing. Vanessa wanted to look like a butterfly, flying over the stage, jumping over the audience. Her parents supported her passion, enrolling in a gym in Brescia, where Vanessa could practice and become better. The sacrifices of the family paid off.

After four years of hard training, the young gymnast joined the Juniores national team, arriving second in the individual competition. In 2004, the team went to the European Juniores and Vanesa Ferrari placed second, once again. She had been doing gymnastics for seven years and she was already showing potential and talent. So much so that people already called her “butterfly.”

Then, in 2005, the Italian athlete won 10 medals, eight gold and two silver. At 15, she became the “Hannibal” of Italian gymnastics, willing and capable to eat up the competition. Vanessa’s talent was so obvious, she made the jump from Juniores to Seniors.

Playing in the big leagues

Vanessa celebrated the year she joined the Senior team in style. In fact, in 2006, she became the first Italian gymnast to win the world title in Aarhus, Denmark. Performing on the notes Nessun Dorma, she made history. However, she wasn’t able to repeat the success during the Peking Olympics in 2008. In fact, the gymnast ended 11th. As she has always admitted, her mistakes caused her fall.

After the Games, Vanessa went through a dark time, both due to her disappointing performance and to her injuries. She had to go through rehab, pushing through the pain to get back on top of the world. She hoped her chance would come at the London 2012 Olympics. In England, the Italian athlete did good but the rules of gymnastics prevented her from stepping on the podium. Vanessa and the Russian Aliya Mustafina had the same score, 14’900. Since there is no tie in the sport, the Italian came home without a medal. That’s when she though about quitting.

But she didn’t quit. Unfortunately, at the Rio Olympics, Vanessa placed fourth. Once again disappointed by her sport, she seriously though about giving up. She had surgery, her body fighting against her. It seemed like she was her worst enemy. The forced rest helped the gymnast’s recovery, both mental and physical. So, Vanessa went back to her passion. And that brought her to Tokyo.

So, what pushes Vanessa Ferrari?

“The feat of regrets in the future,” the gymnast said to Vanity Fair Italia, “I don’t want to waste any opportunities.”


Love women’s sports? Italian boxer Irma Testa is another athlete to watch out.

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top