Our goal is to improve. Always
Things to do, people to meet, hands to shake, details to fix, mechanisms to oil. No, organizing an event like the stage of the World Series in Lignano is not a simple thing. Of course, what happens on competition days repays every effort: but the organizational machine behind it all is important. Francesco Bettella, who is president of the organizing committee, probably knows it better than anyone. “By now – he says – we are there: I look back at last year’s edition and I realize that the organization went a little better this time, it was a little less complicated even though it obviously had its difficulties.”
What is your goal?
Only one, very simple: improve. Last year’s edition, by all accounts, was a great success: we worked and we are working to maintain the standard and take some steps forward.
From the outside, people see the four days of competitions. Actually, how much and what is behind it?
There is a world behind, a whole world. It is a job that engages a group of people for many months – we are now operational since November – and burns out in four days when everything must fit together perfectly. From the outside, one does not imagine all that happens behind the scenes: how many details, how many small problems to solve, how many sleepless nights. But at the same time, how much satisfaction.
How did the idea of hosting a World Cup race come about?
An international meeting of this level was missing in Italy: I had the luck, as an athlete, to live and touch the realities of the competitions organized around the world and there has always been the desire to do something here too. With the help of many people, this desire has become reality. And now we would like the stage in Lignano to become a regular event, a historic meeting like the one in Berlin or the one held in England.
Can you tell us your story as an athlete?
I started doing the first races in 2004, when I was 15: in 2009 I joined the national team and my career took me around the world: 2 paralympics, 3 world championships, 4 Europeans. I swam and won a lot, I learned a lot.
What did you learn?
I learned that swimming and sport have changed my life: the life of a sportsman and a man, beyond successes and medals. They formed my character, they made me become what they are, they took me by the hand and made me overcome my fears and my limits.
My block, my fear of putting myself in costume in front of other people. Thanks to swimming, this weakness was shattered, it became a force: because sport made me a man aware of my means, especially outside the pool.
Why is it important to talk about you and your sporting achievements?
I remember that when I returned from Rio after the Paralympics I thought we medaled like ambassadors. That our victories served and were important for us, but above all for others: and that for this reason, they should be told.
For others, who?
For a disabled boy or girl, for a mother with a different son or daughter: to say that we are all people, people equal to others. Enormous progress has been made, but there is still a lot to do: and we can do a lot.