The most significant piece of history in Italian sport is represented by that goal achieved in Mexico City 40 years ago.
“It would be a dream for me to get closer to what Mennea did. 19.72 is still the 200 meters European record. The Universiade is really an extraordinary event where the best athletes in the world put themselves on the line. I’d like to run for my country”. Filippo Tortu is the symbol, together with Gianmarco Tamberi, of Italian athletics. And he also represents the hope of grandeur because the best players haven’t competed for ages.
His focal point is represented by the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, scheduled for the end of September. Therefore he could find time for the Napoli Universiade, from 3rd to 14th July. Tortu is one of the idols of the Italian delegation and with the prospect of a double gold medal in the 100m and 200m races, he could drag Italy into the medal collection just like Gregorio Paltrinieri, who climbed the highest step of the podium in the 800m and 1500m freestyle in the Tapei Universiade 2017.
“It won’t be easy to be there. I’m going to train in that period for the World Championships in Doha, but I will do anything to participate, to win, to be there”. Moreover, he shares a common destiny with Pietro Mennea, the prince of the Mexican Universiade. This is the case of his university studies, started at Luiss in Rome, with a scholarship bearing the champion’s name. Then races, training, travels, books. “It is not easy to combine sports and studies, but many guys work and study together to support themselves – explains the Italian sprinter – and I can easily do it too. After training and lunch, studying is in the early afternoon between stretches, runs, massages”.
Tortu is the national record holder of 100 meters with the time of 9.99 and the first ever Italian to dip below 10 seconds for the distance. But now comes the hardest part: Getting closer to Mennea’s 200m time – an unbeaten world record for 16 years, 9 months, 11 days, until Michael Johnson’s 19.66 at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games – after the 20.34 final score, set at the Golden Gala, in Rome, two years ago. And the dream is to start writing history in Naples.