We interviewed Salvatore Maresca, ringist of the Sporting Group of Gold Flames from Naples. The 27-year-old from Campania, who last April enriched his showcase with the gold medal conquered in the world Cup held in Baku, he told how the passion that has now become his profession was born. Maresca also retraced his successes And the most significant moments of his career.

Salvatore, how did you approach the world of gymnastics? Why did you choose her, among so many other sports?
I didn’t actually choose it. It all started by chance. In fact, it was my sister who practiced gymnastics on the advice of an orthopedist for a postural correction. I was the classic kid who would go to play football. One day, when I was 7, I went with my parents to pick up my sister from the gym: in that circumstance I saw many boys practicing acrobatics. At that precise moment, also influenced by my great passion for the circus, I decided that I no longer wanted to play football and that I wanted to learn how to jump through hoops. So, from that day on I took the path of gymnastics.

In a 2017 interview with La Repubblica you stated: “Organized crime is the path of the weak, the easiest one. Those who have strength and love the family, do not choose it. But, had it not been for gymnastics, I might have chosen the wrong path“. Would you like to explain and comment on this statement of yours?
Since the 1960s, mine has been a reality hit by organized crime. Thus, I have always found myself living in the middle of two opposite tracks, halfway between two different worlds: on the one hand, it was easy to frequent and get to know that world; on the other hand, approaching gymnastics, I had the opportunity to take the right path, the one that taught me quite another. If it hadn’t been for my family and the sport I practice, I probably would have chosen the other way, because it is the simpler one. Gymnastics has given me the opportunity to open my mind, to compare myself with many professionals, to understand the importance of fundamental concepts such as gender equality, to breathe healthy competition and competitive spirit, to live experiences that have made me mature and evolve differently than children who live and breathe exclusively the context of their neighborhood. Years later and with hindsight, I really understood the path I could have taken and the one I actually chose to take. I am proud of the choice I made.

What prompted you to want to become a ringist? How do you feel when you are suspended up there?
To use the rings you must have great physical strength. I am physiologically predisposed to this sport. I’ll tell you this anecdote, testifying how natural it is for me. Once I was in the gym, I was 14, I was doing my routine exercises when two friends of mine entered as soon as they returned from a retreat with the national team. They were both trying the rings “la rondine”, that is the horizontal position to the ring, but although they were trying it continuously they could not. So, I decided to try it myself: the swallow succeeded me at the first attempt. My friends were amazed by what I had done and they railed sympathetically at me. From that moment on, I devoted myself totally to the discipline.

In Japan, in February 2021 two medals for Italy arrive at the Kitakyushu World Championships: you win the bronze one and Marco Lodadio the silver one. Can you tell us how wonderful it was to have written that page of history for blue gymnastics?
We wrote a piece of history in all respects: it had never happened that five out of six gymnasts reached the final and three out of five took the medal. Marco Lodadio and I have often been protagonists and antagonists at every race. So meeting at a World Cup together also allowed us to compete and compete with each other. On the day of qualifying I remain in the race, while Marco remains out because he finished ninth. I was happy and sorry at the same time, because I really wanted to play the final with him. Incredibly, however, the day before the final a Chinese gymnast retires and to our great joy Marco is rescued. In that final we competed together: he won silver and I won bronze in my first World Cup. It was great. We waved the tricolor flag and ran around the building, receiving a standing ovation from the Japanese audience.

What message do you feel like giving to those who want to take the same path as you?
Mine is a sport in which “one in a thousand makes it”, and the person who is determined to achieve and fulfill their dreams is always successful. With so many sacrifices, this sport allows you to achieve goals that give immense satisfaction, those that no other discipline can give. It is a path that shapes you at 360 degrees, sportingly and humanly.

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