“What a Games for Italy!” shouted BBC Sport commentator Andrew Cotter as the men’s 4x100m relay team snatched the gold medal on the line from Great Britain on Friday.
And what a summer too – if you’re Italian.
As beaten British relay sprinter Richard Kilty put it: “In the history of mankind this is Italy’s biggest year ever. Forget the Roman Empire, Nero, all that nonsense. This is as big as it gets for them. They have conquered the world.”
A golden summer for Italy
Eurovision winners in May;
Euro 2020 winners in July;
a first Wimbledon finalist in Matteo Berrettini;
and now a record medal haul of 38, including 10 golds (so far), in Tokyo 2020 featuring: Lamont Marcell Jacob’s prestigious men’s 100m sprint victory, a gold and world record in the men’s cycling team pursuit final; Gianmarco Tamberi’s iconic shared high jump gold; and Antonella Palmisano becoming the first Italian woman to win an athletics Olympic gold since 1984 by winning the women’s 20k race walk on her 30th birthday.
Before Tokyo, Italy’s previous highest medal total was 36 at both the Los Angeles 1932 and Rome 1960 Games.
They also have their highest athletics gold-medal total at a single Games, with five victories, after Friday’s stunning relay victory.
The medal table for Tokyo 2020
Italy win 4x100m relay gold
Here’s how the country reacted:
La Gazzetta dello Sport says: “We’re a nightmare for English sport this summer, and, in the case of the Olympics, for the whole of the UK. Can’t deny it. The sentiment is summed up well by the Daily Mail, which reads: Not Italy again!”
Mail Online headline ‘not Italy again’
Mail Online’s story also pointed out that Italy won Eurovision while Britain picked up “null points”
Italian relay sprinter Filippo Tortu was quoted in the Italian media as saying that he didn’t quite “understand” whether the team had won: “I didn’t think I had any tears left to cry, and yet… Singing the anthem tomorrow will be the most wonderful thing.
“I will cry again and again. When I started running and I saw the Brit right next to me, I just thought about staying calm and relaxed because I knew I could overtake him. I was more with it while I was running than when I crossed the finish line.
“I couldn’t believe it, I asked whether we’d really won and we had – when I saw ‘Italy’ on the screen I didn’t even check the final result, which was insane, but I just didn’t care.”