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The music you're listening is "Fly", by Céline Dion

The Marchesi Flamingo

by Andrea Fusco

She has just turned over the last page of the chapter about illuminism. It's evening, and after training-hours, she devotes herself to the study. But that subject doesn't excite Susanna Marchesi's curiosity.

"I prefer humanism - Susanna explains - I don't like controlled states of mind, feelings submitted to the authority of the reason, in life it's important something unforeseen. If I were a painter, I would like to be a Kandisky or a Picasso".

And Susanna's athletic life is horn, after all, from an unforeseen eventuality. She and her family had thought of artistic gymnastics, in Petrarca Arezzo team, but, when eleven, she realized that her body was growing too tall, in order to practise a sport tied to exact weights and measures.

"At the beginning it was a trauma - Susanna remembers - the choise was the rhythmic gymnastics. But I wasn't persuaded. I thought it was a circus sport, with clubs, ribbon and all those apparatuses which seemed very far from the rigour of a sport like the artistic gymnastics.

But I wished to have a test and it was pleasant for me to realize I was quite wrong; and with the rhythmic gymnastics I was determined to go along a new road".

On her way, Susanna is helped by a determined character we can perceive when she's smiling on the rhythmic floor: "I think my temper is not bad. I'm sociable, I like to be with people, but sometimes I need to be alone, especially when I'm tired or after a defeat. At that time I don't want anybody near me".

Susanna's independent spirit shows itself also in other circumstances. "Sometimes I'm a little selfish. Our diet has to be strict, and at times we can have something more. And look! If I have the opportunity of eating a small piece of chocolate I don't like to divide it with the others, I prefer have it all for me. I'm willing to hide it, too. It is a little treasure and I know that during the year I can taste it once or twice at the most.

My contact with food? I've been bewildered when I arrived to the Follonica Centre. I thought to be slim. They made me weigh, and told me I had lose about three kilos. At the beginning it was difficult, but I won this challenge too. Really I judge well when doctors fix our right weight and our touch with the food; with all respect I think that coaches must not come to these decisions".

During the competition, too, we can pay heed to Susanna. "I detest people wandering about the floor, pressing, advising, over and over again, also when it is useless, because you can't change anything few minutes before the competition. During those moments, the best is to stay by me in silence, quietly. I'm sure I won the Italian title thanks to my coach Manola Rosi. She spoke to me only when all was over. Before it was beautiful to look at each other, and understand what was necessary to do".

Champions, also those with a determined look, unwilling abandon some luck, and Susanna as well: "On the floor I always have with me two puppets, Paperina e Topolina. They haven't exact names, but they always accompany me, They're my mother Tinaand my father Enrico's gift. but, perhaps, the best talisman is my family, my parents and my brother Orlando. They're near me and know how to take care of me in hard moments".

Sometimes I was about to give up, to abandon this hard life but I always understood, soon after, that it was an impulse like a freak. I don't miss the so-callednormal life; I know, I could have a boyfriend, and the opportunity often happens. But when a suitor was coming forward, I simply answered no. Because it isn't the right moment, you cannot have a sane affective life when you're in training and at the same time attending school. I can say, people always understood and respected me. Love will come when I'll put an end to this adventure. Really, I like thinking of rhythmics as a friend always near. when I'll wear my gymnastic leotard no more I'd like to be a coach and transmit to the young girls my feelings and experiences of these years. I'm sure I'd be very good in obliterating anxieties and suspences".

The new Italian title makes, however, Susanna steady on her legs: "I know that still more is to do. My dream is to go to the Olympics in Sydney, and during this period I'll work thinking of a model, the belorussian Lukianenko, accurate and persuasive. It is a pity: at the eve of important matches she lost her concentration. I like the Ukrainian Elena Vitrichenko a lot too. Perhaps I go again the stream, but I don't appreciate the style of the Olympic Champion, the Ukrainian Serebrianskaya. She's too tall and with difficulty she's able to control her movements. And her exercises don't excite me".

Far from the floor, sometimes Susanna daydreams, and her thoughts go far: "If I could be changed into an animal, I'd like to be a flamingo. So regal in flight, so slender, so lofty..."

©Laura Vigna & Roberta Diglio