Alberta Santuccio is a professional fencer. Her passion for fencing was born when she was a little girl and it led her to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. With her team, she won the bronze medal and this was one of the most emotional moment of her life.
Hello Alberta! Tell us something about you. How was your passion for fencing born?
My passion for fencing was born in 2001 when I was 7-years-old. I was looking for a sport to practice and after many attempts, which included swimming and dancing, I decided to follow in the footsteps of my brother Giorgio. I had to wait two years before I start competing but once I began I got good results and my passion became bigger and bigger.
“Tokyo meant a lot to the world of sport because it has been like a sign of recovery, a new beginning”
How would you describe the Olympic experience in Tokyo? Especially after such a difficult moment due to the Covid
I really wanted to participate to the Olympic Games: until the very end we were with bated breath because we didn’t know if it would be cancelled. So, until the day I left for Tokyo I couldn’t believe that I would participate in the games! Tokyo meant a lot to the world of sport because it has been like a sign of recovery, a new beginning. We got to this eagerly awaited competition after a very long stop due to the Covid pandemic. We participated to just one competition after the lockdown. Despite everything, living an Olympic experience is something magical. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so many emotions all at once. We got the chance to meet the legends of sport, and compete with many other athletes and what hit me the most is the fact that we were a big family. Everyday, at “Casa Italia” we watched the finals of different sports and supported our companions and we joyed for the wins and suffered together for the loses.
How do you train yourself before such a competition? Many athletes, as for example Simone Biles, declared they feel a lot of pressure and stress. How do you manage this side of the sport?
Training for the Olympics means a lot of hard work. We have to make sacrifices and renunciations. I used to train myself everyday and more than once a day. I prepared the Olympic Games with my coach, Daniele Pantoni and with my athletic trainer, Manuele Iacobucci and also with the fundamental help of my physiotherapist, Francesco Aragona. Thanks to their help I reached the Olympics in great shape, both physically and mentally.
I would say that pressure is part of these games. When you reach a certain level, everyone expects something from you and I wanted to give my best. I worked with a mental coach who helped me when the pressure which was taking over, because moments like these are part of an athlete’s career. Maybe it could be weird but I was able to relax also doing something else. I started again studying at the university which allowed me to take my mind off fencing. Everyone certainly has different ways to manage the tension, I needed this kind of detachment not to stress myself out. Having lower expectations allowed me to have fun again practicing my discipline and I think this is the best thing.
“The Olympics are certainly the most difficult competition I had to deal with because the emotional component plays a great role”
In your opinion why fencing is less considered than other “classical” sports such as football or volleyball?
Unfortunately, fencing has always been seen as a secondary sport, especially here in Italy where football rules. Often I am disappointed because sometimes when fencers reach great results, the newspapers don’t mention them rather they just talk about football matches. Not getting a great attention by the media which doesn’t help our situation at all. Besides, the rules of fencing are not always easy to understand because there are many of them that concern the assignment of points. However, I am happy because over the years fencers has become more popular also thank to some famous athletes who practice it.
What was the most difficult competition in your career so far? Or a strong adversary you have to face with?
The Olympics are certainly the most difficult competition I had to deal with because the emotional component plays a great role. It is something that you don’t feel in other competitions. So you have to face this big feeling which is not always as easy to handle and that can often take over.
Do you have any particular ritual before starting the competition?
I am very superstitious and for this reason I have my superstitious rituals. First of all, I have a Winnie the Pooh puppet, that is with me since I was a little girl, and which I always bring with me to the competitions. Then, I wear some earrings that was given to me by my beloved grandfather, who was also my supporter number one and before every match I touch them and then I kiss my hand. Lastly, I always wear the same t-shirt with the writing: “Until the end” which is also the motto that motivates me.
What does winning the Olympic medal mean to you?
Winning the medal at the Olympics is certainly the apex of an athlete’s agonistic career. The medal has been the greatest reward for all my sacrifices: once you wear it you forget about everything and you know that it was worth it and again you can wait to start a new adventure!
After the bronze medal you won in Tokyo, what will be your next goal ?
I am going to start training again because the next goals are the European and the Championships which will be in June and July 2022, respectively. They will be preceded by other competitions regarding the Championships. I hope that these competitions bring me good results because to me every match counts… winning helps to win and awareness in your abilities improve more and more. Last but not the least, I am going to start thinking about next Olympic Games in 2024.
“…winning helps to win and awareness in your abilities improve more and more”
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