The women of the Italian fencing team at the Olympics used to be champions, taking every medal they could. The names of these women who changed the perception of the sport are names like Elisa Di Francisca and Valentina Vezzali. So, every time the country’s team gets to the Games, the expectations are high.
But something happened at Tokyo 2020. In this specialty, the Italians so far have won five medals, not even one gold. During the Olympics of London 2012, the total medals were seven, including three golds. During these Olympics, the women’s team missed the final, losing 43-45 to France. While the team brought the bronze home, the critics didn’t stop. And the controversy came directly from the team.
What did Elisa Di Francisca say?
After the defeat, the Italian champion had harsh words both for the coach and one of her teammates. At the Games of London 2012, she won two gold medals. Now, she will get back to Italy with a disappointing result.
”Andrea Cipressa isn’t good enough to be our fencing coach,” Di Francisca said after the defeat against France, “the results show it. We need a stronger personality.” The country’s team disappointed everyone that counted on it to get medals. Heavy, shiny ones. And the champion wasn’t done. “At London with coach Cerioni we won three gold medals and five medals more. I don’t know if he is available to come back but he would be the best to have this role.”
Still, Di Francisca had words to say to her teammate, Arianna Errigo.
“Perhaps Alice Volpi should have competed in the final,” the Italian champion said, “I mean, Arianna Errigo is very strong, both physically and technically. But she suffers during the important matches, especially during the Olympic Games. We saw it in Rio and we saw it here too.”
During the match against France, Errigo was the last one on the platform. The Italian team was winning 40-37, but the match ended 45-43. “It‘s a shame because everyone else played well and Errigo, who should have been our star, failed in the most important time,” said Di Francisca.
Indeed, harsh words. How did the Italian fencing team at the Olympics take it?
The drama continues..
While coach Cipressa didn’t comment yet, the coach of the men’s volleyball team had even harsher words for the fencing champion.
“It’s disgusting,” said Julio Velasco, “the issues isn’t if she is right or wrong. What’s disgusting is the moment, timing, and talking in such a way about a colleague.” A coach defending another coach, so Di Francisca didn’t have a reply for Velasco. Instead, she defended her comments about Errigo and Cipressa.
Her words about the teammate? A bit of revenge. In fact, at the World Cup the women’s fencing team lost against Russia. That time around, Di Francisca was the last one to compete and she let the rival catch up to her and, ultimately, win. After the defeat, Errigo wrote a harsh post, saying di Francisca did everything wrong and essentially blaming her for the loss. Di Francisca felt hurt. And she was looking for the right chance to reply. At Tokyo 2020, she found it.
“Honestly, Errigo didn’t feel comfortable right after the defeat against France,” Di Francisca said to Il Corriere della Sera, “I wanted to remind her of what she had said about me. I did differently because now I’m not on the team anymore, I’m just a spectator. I was waiting for the right moment and this is just my opinion.”
What will happen next? The matches of this Olympic specialty are almost over. Two more matches (both team’s) to get a medal, perhaps heavier than the bronze.