Interview with Caterina Banti who, together with Ruggero Tita, won the sailing gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
After the Tokyo 2020 Olympics we can proudly say that Italy has made itself known, beating the record of medals obtained, 40! (Read also: Tokyo 2020: record for Italy, which closes with 40 medals and one last bronze ).
Among these, one particularly struck us, we are talking about the historical result obtained in sailing, where the team made up of Caterina Banti and Ruggero Tita won the gold medal after 21 years. A real record, among other things, is in fact the first Italian mixed crew to win gold.
A well-deserved triumph for the Italian couple who worked hard to achieve this result and who are already known for having achieved extraordinary results in several important competitions: in the last 5 years they have won a world title and three European titles! (Read also: Tokyo 2020: Azzurri Tita and Banti conquer gold in sailing, making history!
We were lucky enough to be able to talk to Caterina Banti after the victory of this extraordinary Olympic gold in sailing, class of Nacra 17 catamarans. Here’s what she told us.
The first question is obvious but usual: what does it feel like to win an Olympic gold?
Honestly, we tried to live it as a race like any other, I think we haven’t really achieved what happened yet also because we are far from the world, we are in this “bubble”. It was certainly the culmination of a very long journey and therefore for me, more than this regatta, the whole road that brought us here was important. A great experience, both on a human and sporting level. When they put the medal around my neck the first thing I thought was: “this medal weighs” , it weighs like all the hard work that has been done to get here.
Yours is the first Italian mixed crew to win a gold. What is it like to work in a team of one man and one woman?
I think it is a great strength to work together man-woman because we are totally different but we have characteristics that if they make themselves available to a common goal – and our common goal was the Olympics – a very strong team really comes out. We take the best of both, we complement each other. What is difficult is to understand this, but once I understand it I give my best, all my experience is available to the team. Where he does not arrive I arrive and where I do not arrive he arrives.
You are a graduate of the University of Naples L’Orientale and you speak many languages (including Arabic). How was your passion for sailing born?
I graduated from L’Orientale in Islamic studies, the master’s degree, for me studying has always been a great passion, the same also for sport. I started sailing late but a competitive activity at great levels has always been a dream of mine and I finally managed to make it come true with sailing, especially the dream of the Olympic medal. I got close to it thanks to my brother, he is the sailor and he started before me. At 13 I took a sailing course on Lake Bracciano but then I had totally abandoned, at 23 I always started again thanks to my brother. Then I met my first coach who gave me a great passion and always believed in me (when others did not believe) and I started the journey on the Olympic Nacra after London 2012.
What is sailing for you? What qualities are needed?
I think that sailing is really a very special and very beautiful sport. You are in the middle of nature, in the middle of the sea and the waves. I also worked as a sailing instructor for children, think of a 6-year-old boy alone in the middle of the sea, you have to learn to get by, learn how to handle the boat at best, adapt to the waves and the wind. “Reading” the sea and the wind makes you very responsible. The new boats, like our Nacra 17, also require a great physical performance, especially for my role as bow, and on the other hand it also requires a very high concentration. You have to be awake, in regattas you have to interpret the conditions in the best possible way, especially the wind, the waves, the current, many variables so as to complete the route in the shortest possible time and take the shortest route compared to the others. It takes a lot of head and a lot of physical.
Together you and Ruggero Tita have already won a world championship, 3 European titles and now also the Olympic gold medal. What is your next goal?
Yes, we have actually won many championships but what matters most are all the medals that Ruggero and I have won in training. As Valentin Mankin (Soviet sailor three times Olympic champion ed) always said and as our coach has often repeated to us: “medals are won in training” and you go to regattas to collect them . We were thinking just this morning with Ruggero: do you remember when we saw our idols, our reference points, those sailors who had won medals at the Olympics, we saw them as unattainable people, now we won the gold medal but we we feel we still have a lot to learn and improve. I think this is a great strength, never feeling like you’ve arrived, yes we have won medals but our strength is to try to improve every day, overcome our limits and the limits of the boat and continue to look forward, never stop. I would also like to underline that Ruggero and I are on the boat, but around us we have a really strong team of people who in many ways have contributed and helped us along this path.
What would you recommend to those who are now starting to sail and more generally to all sportsmen who want to achieve brilliant results like yours?
The results come by themselves with commitment. Nothing teaches like sport that constancy, commitment, determination, dedication and sacrifice lead to results . You must never feel like you have arrived and even when you see everything dark, when you are tired and you think you can’t do it anymore, you have to train because you know that if you do it is a brick that you put in to build your way and to move forward towards the goal. prefixed. We must be willing to make many sacrifices, we have always made them with a smile because behind there is a great passion and that’s what we like to do, surely all the people around us also make these sacrifices, especially the most care.