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Italian patroness Federica Pellegrini inaugurates Roma 2022

As patroness of the European Aquatics Championships and with scissors in her hands ready to cut the ribbon, Federica Pellegrini, the world-famous Italian multi-champion, together with the president of the Italian Swimming Federation Paolo Barelli, inaugurated today, 9 August, the competition venues at the Foro Italico.

The inauguration, which took place with the most numerous Italian team ever attending (102 among world champions such as Gregorio Paltrinieri, Benedetta Pilato, Thomas Ceccon and Giorgio Minisini, and European gold medallists such as Chiara Pellacani and Simona Quadarella), was a new celebration opportunity after the magic and surprising triumph at the Budapest world championships last Budapest, where Italy placed third in the medals table behind the United States and China.

And it could only be her, Federica Pellegrini, the star of this beautiful moment of celebration before the start of the European Championships. It is precisely the ‘Divina’ who holds the world record in the women’s 200m freestyle set in the capital's Swimming Stadium at the 2009 world championships, a record that has remained unbeaten all these years. "In the space of a few years they have all been beaten, mine is the only one from that era that holds up. Something must mean something”. Having retired just before the European Championships in Rome, she said: 'I'm not regretting it, in hindsight you make many different choices in life. But I am happy as I am.” After 19 years of national and international achievements, including two Olympic medals, 19 world championship titles, 31 European Championships gold medals and 181 Italian titles, the reality is that no one wanted to see her retire from competition.

An ambition for success that started as a child: 'When I was seven years old, my dream was to join the national team. In 2008 my biggest dream came true, I won the Olympics and discovered a great thing: it is when we wake up that everything becomes possible." It was 11 August 2008 and in the Chinese capital of Beijing, the Divine won the women’s 200 freestyle Olympic gold medal, setting a world record in the event (1:54.82) for the first time.

This was no coincidence. Exactly fourteen years later, Pellegrini will open the European Championships in Rome 2022.

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