The champion talks about herself for the first time after her marriage to Matteo Giunta. And she turns out to be a different person. “When you are in the water you feel a bit like God, by quitting I feared emptiness: instead it was a liberation”
The disused swimming pool under his feet it is completely empty, but Federica Pellegrini’s life without water and without swimming is not empty at all. Instead, it is as sparkling as the sequin blazer and stiletto heels with which, incongruously, she stands on the starting block. Life after retirement from swimming is the summer sun towards which she turns her face; it is the naturalness with which she follows the directions of the photographer who asks her to arch her back, uncover a leg; it is the loner who shines at the same ring finger of faith. He is her husband who passes by, greets, warns “I bring food to the quadrupeds”, their four dogs. It is she who he says that the void has feared him: «Deciding to stop doing what you have been doing for twenty years has not been easy, because when you are in the water you feel a bit like God, a bit like a super hero. However, I suffered a hard Covid, I never recovered one hundred percent and, for a year already, the body was telling me to stop. If I had gone ahead, I would not have performed as before and I would not have forgiven myself ».
“I LIKE TO LITIGATE, I NEED IT: IT’S GOOD, YOU RELEASE YOURSELF, RESET, START AGAIN … I DON’T BE BETRAYED”. “THE FOUR DOGS WILL REMAIN, THE CHILDREN WILL ARRIVE: I CAN’T SEE THE TIME”
Federica, an Olympic gold medalist, six gold medals at the World Championships, 11 world records, feared the void, but she was wrong: “After retiring, I started doing three thousand things, I didn’t go home to look at the ceiling”. Among the “three thousand things” she organized the wedding, celebrated on August 27 in Venice. Ten years ago, she began training with Matteo Giunta who is now her husband: “For two years, he was my athletic trainer”, she remembers, “then he became the actual coach and, in the last four years, we have been together , we lived together ».
Was marriage a dream, a desire, a goal?
“I grew up in a close family, marriage was the story of my mother in a white dress, of my parents when they met. Mom was from Murano, she was a shop assistant in a glass shop in Piazza San Marco, my father worked at the nearby Bar Florian. Legend has it that mum came into the Florian asking for chamomile tea because she had a stomach ache and my dad, in the evening, she told her mother about her: today, I met the woman I will marry. In my head, the white dress has always been there. However, as you grow up, you also understand that it may not come. At a certain point, I told myself that if I hadn’t found the right person, the one of “forever”, I wouldn’t have been hurt ».
«WITH MATTEO I START INCREDIBLE DISPUTES OVER CAVOLATE. I WAS IN FORMENTERA WITH FRIENDS, CALLED LITTLE.I YELLED: “DON’T YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT I DO?” “
How is Matthew the man of “forever”?
«He is my opposite, I am instinctive and he is reflective, we fit together well. Whether in sport or in life, he knows how to defuse me. I ignite, he defuses ».
What is there to defuse and why is he laughing?
«Since it is absolutely impossible to argue with him, every now and then, I trigger because, physiologically, I need to argue: it’s good, you vent, reset, start over. I got into arguments over unbelievable bullshit, only to lock him in a corner and see a reaction from him. ‘
The stupidest bullshit invented to fight?
«I was in Formentera with my friends. He didn’t call me a lot, he wasn’t worried, he wasn’t jealous. I planted a mess. I yelled: do you care what I’m doing? And he: I’m leaving you calm because you are with friends ».
She laughs at it, but what do you have in favor of jealousy?
“I’m not used to non-jealous people. I am, a little bit by nature and a little because my past stories have led me to be on the lookout for the favorite sport of men: betrayal ».
«WHEN YOU WIN AT 16, THERE ARE THOSE WHO WANT TO EXPLOIT YOU IN SOME WAY. I REACTED LIKE A Hedgehog, FOR THE OTHERS I WAS CLOSED AND ANTIPATHIC “
Are you saying that she was very betrayed?
“I like this suspect.”
How much corroborated by clues and evidence?
“Lots of evidence, lots of clues. I was burned, I suffered infidelity quite systematically: to trust totally is difficult. Sometimes, those fears come back and make themselves felt ».
Finding out she was betrayed, did she leave or forgive?
“I have left, I have forgiven, I have released and forgiven. Then, after falling in love, I realized that forgiving was wrong ».
In the past, she too has been accused of cheating.
“I cheated, I can’t say no, but I cheated only when the story was over shortly thereafter. Systematic cheating is different. I do not conceive of those who betray for sport. In fact, I am not one that makes you jealous: you can see that I have no crickets in my head; I’m not a flirtatious one. ‘
“I HAVE THE CODES OF HIS PHONE, HE DOESN’T CHANGE THEM: OTHERWISE HE WOULD HAVE SOMETHING TO HIDE … BUT I DON’T BE IN IT EVERY DAY”
So now, how and how jealous is she of her husband?
“Every now and then, I give him a little scene, but I don’t live with constant doubt.”
Can you tell me “a little scene”?
“For messages on Instagram, sent by someone who was a dead cat, with him answering slyly.”
So, she got into his private messages?
“If I have any doubt, I go into his phone. I know all the codes. ‘
He says it with a sly expression.
«Matteo knows I have them. And he doesn’t change them: if not, he means that he has something to hide. But I don’t go into his phone every day. ‘
He was telling me why he is the one.
«Which is very beautiful is secondary. He is very interesting and intelligent: with him you can discuss everything, politics, movies, training methodology and athletic preparation of any sport and you always find him prepared. Then we share a wild soul: we live in costume, barefoot, with wet hair, we take, we leave. We had also thought about getting married on the beach, with the final swim, but tradition prevailed. And he is the right man also because he has accepted to plan his life with me on the basis of four dogs: something not taken for granted ».
The “quadrupeds” he called them.
“Four very demanding French bulldogs: you can’t leave them alone all day. Every two or three hours, someone has to come home. Not all men would have lent themselves. ‘
With how many children and how many dogs do you imagine?
“The dogs will remain four. The children will arrive, we want them, but we will see how it goes with one in the meantime. I can’t wait to be a mother. They all talk about the incredible connection with something that is growing inside of you: I have a great desire to feel what effect it has on your belly ».
Newlywed Jennifer Lopez took her husband’s surname Ben Affleck: right, wrong, anti-feminist?
“I, if Matteo and I are introduced to an event like Mr Giunta, I don’t find anything wrong with it.”
What do you like about life after swimming?
“I’ll make her laugh: the thing I liked the most is the long weekend, an incredible discovery. For me, the weekend started on Saturday at 11 after training and ended early on Sunday evening in bed ».
Tell me one.
«I’ll tell you a trip. In March, I took a beautiful cruise with Mom between the Red Sea and Jordan. The cruise had always been my mother’s dream, but when they proposed it to me, instinctively, I said no, because, for me, March was the highlight of the training season and a stop was impossible ».
What will he do when he grows up, will he stay in swimming, will he do television or what else?
“I took the time to figure it out. Italia’s got talent and the bet of Hyenas conducted with Nicola Savino were fun experiences. If the TV comes and I realize I’m capable enough, that’s fine. In swimming, I already exist at an institutional level, I am a member of the International Olympic Committee and I am in the athletes’ commission of the International Swimming Federation, but I would like to do something with the boys in contact with water: we are studying a project, we will see ».
After the retirement, what was surprisingly easy and what was difficult?
«The most difficult thing was to stop knowing that shortly after there would be the Europeans in Rome. The easiest was not to enter the pool anymore: I don’t feel the lack of water. I never would have imagined it. In these months, I will have entered the tank six or seven times in total ».
When he does, does he keep pace or take a swim like everyone else?
“I train with the guys from the federal center of Verona: that’s what I no longer wanted to do, but if I had to swim back and forth alone, I’d be bored. This summer, I was in Sardinia, on the third day I said: Mom, I’m swimming too much, that’s enough ».
Did you have a long-lived career, you challenged three generations of opponents, how much did you want to finish with a flourish?
“I would have done everything for one last Olympics. And, in the final in the 200 freestyle, I made a goal that, given the difficulty of the previous months, was incredible. I cried a lot of tears. They were not joy or anger, but an outlet to begin to empty what I had been holding inside for years: swimming asks you to be a robot, to keep emotions in check. It was a bit of a liberation to stop doing it. ”
The feeling is that for some years it was lighter. For example, she does funny things on Instagram.
“It’s true, I’m more open. Growing up, I realized that not everyone wants to hurt me. It’s something I’ve been working on and a little bit has been thanks to Italia’s got talent . Seeing that, as a juror, many people told me it was nice to know me as I am gave me the courage to open up more and more ».
Why did she think everyone wanted to hurt her?
«When you win your first medal at 16, there are those who approach only because you are the Pellegrini, those who want to exploit you in some way, those who harm you personally. Being very young, the trend has been to close myself up like a hedgehog. And I was considered the unpleasant closed ».
Today I saw her laugh a lot. While she posed for photos, during the interview …
“I laugh often, I laugh at a movie that makes you laugh, I laugh if a person is funny. I laugh. I feel very happy ».
Few have the courage to say they are happy.
“Because? Do you say it brings bad luck? I am not happy 24 hours a day every day, but it is very rare that I am truly sad ».
What if I asked him at 20 if he was happy?
“At that age, you only think about what’s not going on. Happiness is a recent achievement: it is difficult to realize what you have, everything is not always perfect, but now, even if something bad happens, I feel lucky to have my family, my husband, my life ” .
What does a moment of perfect happiness look like?
«A recent one is that I arrived at the airport, Matteo was out in the car with the four beasts, I got in and they attacked me with kisses, slinguazzati … Here, that’s my moment of perfect happiness».
September 9, 2022 (change September 9, 2022 | 07:17)
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