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Inside the Italian Group...

by Giuseppe Rendine

"We recorded the images from the opening cerimony of the Olympic Games. For a moment the girls have been framed in close up: it was an incredible emotion". Mrs Adele's voice is trembling, it's a voice of who's going to face twenty hours and more flying to be there, sharing with her daughter Eva an experience to be consumed sipping every moment, every gesture. It's the story of three girls, and it goes from Chieti to Pescara. Eva D'Amore, just 19, and Noemi Iezzi, turning 18 in November, are born and growth in Chieti, while Roberta Lucentini, turning 17 in December, is from Pescara, and she's arrived to the gymnastic club "Armonia Chieti", directed by Anna Mazziotti, inexhaustible cradle of young talents, only since few years. In a week, in Sydney, it will be their turn, in the RSG Group competition, and they'll try to climb the podium. As high as possible, always knowing that have joined the Olympics will remain a honour anyhow, something to tell or even to keep inside. For themselves, for their families, for whom has followed in the exhausting daily trainings.

Eva and Roberta are only children, while Noemi has got a younger sister, Simona, that's completely involved in her experience, too. "At home we have two clocks, one on Sydney time zone. Noemi phones very often and we feel her more and more enthusiast. We're happy for her, but we miss here. Since many years, indeed, we have seen her such a little, because she's out almost all the time for competitions and trainings". Ivano Iezzi, Noemi's dad, used to be a good soccer player, and Rinaldo D'Amore, Eva's father, used to be too. A sportive family was Lucentinis as well. Mrs Cinzia packing suitcases remembers: "After having practised basketball and volleyball even as an athlete, I pushed Roberta to ski very very young. She was very good and she won some competitions, when she started going to 'Diana' center (Pescara) and she has been completely swallowed up by the passion towards RSG". Then, she moved to "Armonia" society and a crescendo of results that brought her until Olympic Games.

Second Olympic Games for Eva D'Amore, captain of azure team, that four years ago went to Atlanta as a reserve. There's also grandma and aunt's cheering for her: they live in USA and, after having watched and watched again the film-strip of the opening ceremony even in slow-motion, they'll be in Sydney too. A medal? We have hope. Focuse on clubs, hoops and ribbons, a little uncertainty can be fatal and in few seconds we can lose four years of preparation, of dreams, of hopes and, especially, of hard sacrifices. "These girls forwent so many things - Mrs Adele, captain's mum, goes on - . Maybe silly things but obviously normal if you're so young, as a trip or a walk with your friends. Then we, their parents, sometimes feel like we didn't live with them the most beautiful years". But this regret fades when 'you're here', protagonist of the most important appointment for each athlete. The top of the mondial sport meets, united, coloured, exuberant all around the five olympic rings, and so, even the hours of study put together, even after a day of training, in the little room of Follonica Federal Centre, or maybe the memories of the times they thought 'I can't, I made a lot of mistakes, it'd better to give up' fade away.

Also these Olympic Games will pass, as the last World Championships in Japan or the long successions of experiences in Spain or in Hungary did. Noemi Iezzi has to attend the last year of Accountancy School, coming Linguistic High-School examination for Eva D'Amore, second year of Classical High-School for Roberta Lucentini. Teachers are comprehensive, progress dignified, books can wait a little more again. Now they must find the right concentration and maybe go and find a little bit of luck that in such competitions seems fundamental. Preditions place azures near podium zone near Russia, Spain and Greece, the favourite. Two athletes from Genova complete the almost-all-from-Abruzzo. "The first days, on the phone, Roberta seemed very excited - Mrs Lucentini ends - but, passing time, strain is normal".

What else. Iezzis' clock is right. They'll let of the tumult of heart and time-zone, from 28th of September, in front of TV, hoping for final, at least.

Laura Vigna & Roberta Diglio