Donna Sport: the athletes most accomplished in school

21st February 2017

Donna Sport: Alex Zanardi, Fiona May and Diana Bracco award the most accomplished female Italian athletes in school

They win at school and in competition; they are young and brilliant yet they already know how to assume responsibility. The champions of the fourth edition of Donna Sport, the competition created by the Bracco Group to support and promote women's sports combined with academic merit are: Loredana Spera, 21 years old from Barletta in Archery, Ayomide Folorunso, 20 years old from Fidenza (PR) in Athletics (winners ex aequo), Martina Rabbolini 18 years old from Villa Cortese (MI) in Paralympic swimming, Teresa Isotta 17 years old from Armeno (NO) in Rowing and Beatrice Malagodi 21 years old from Rome in Judo.
"The large participation in the competition affirms that learning and sports are compatible," states Diana Bracco, President and CEO of the Bracco Group. "We wish to encourage young athletes who want to achieve results and attain important goals both in sports and in their studies, to then be successful in life. By awarding these girls we hope to recognize and encourage their commitment, so that it may give us increasingly brilliant women."
From 2011 to today, we have had 1,000 athletic candidates, mostly between the ages of 16 and 17 years old. In 2016 alone, 80 provinces (above all Perugia, Turin, Pisa, Varese, Rome and Milan) and 41 disciplines were represented. Among the most practiced were: athletics (32%) followed by a distant rowing, soccer, roller skating, tennis, swimming and basketball, but also appearing were table tennis, taekwondo, archery and underwater hockey.

"Balancing professional sports and academic studies is quite complicated," explains Fiona May, "and is even more so today because young people are influenced by the draw of many other distractions and it becomes more and more difficult to commit yourself. Too often the sacrifice even goes unrecognized and this happens particularly in women's sports. For an athlete that has to reconcile sports training with education, an award for his/her efforts is a huge incentive to move forward and always improve."

"I'm happy to be able to help shine a spotlight on these girls who put so much effort into sports," adds Alex Zanardi. "This way we can give visibility to athletes that have not been so lucky in being able to commit to their passion, having the chance to rely on the best equipment and the best possible conditions. As far as I'm concerned, it is a way to give back an opportunity that I had."

In this year's competition, special because it falls in the year of the Bracco Group's founding, 330 girls have registered who practice a sport at a competitive level among those associated with Coni, and who, in the school year 2014-2015 have attended a secondary class earning a grade equal to or better than the average of 7 out of 10. In the Para-athlete section young women associated with the Italian Paralympic Committee have enrolled.
"In order to allow men and women to enjoy the same conditions in which to work and practice sports, recognizing their equal rights, a commitment from all is required. Just as together we must ensure easy access to sports for young people with disabilities so that no one is left behind and so each person's hardship does not translate into exclusion, marginalization, or isolation," concludes the Minister of Sport Luca Lotti in his greeting to the winners of Donna and Sport. "We know that instilling healthy values starts and prospers in school classrooms, in gyms and on playing fields, if they remain positive places to gather, free of barriers."

At the awards event in Milan, Alex Zanardi and Fiona May were present, along with Valentina Aprea, Education Minister of Lombardy and Roberta Guaineri, Minister of Sport for the City of Milan, also spoke.

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