“I wanted to win that medal at all costs”

by Alessio Conforti

He has made history by bringing Italy back to the podium after 37 years. Mirko Zanni, who has recently won the bronze medal in weightlifting at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, tells his story the Jesolo Journal. He was born in Pordenone 24 years ago on 26 October. At the Olympic Games, he competed in the -67 kilogram category. He will never forget his return journey from the Japanese capital city. 

  • Mirko, what was your reaction when you realized that you made it?
    I don’t even know how to describe it. I kept asking myself: “I can’t believe!”. Two or three years ago, I never imagined that I would win the Olympic medal. When I got on the podium, the images of my career passed in front of me: from the beginning to the end.
  • What was your return journey like?
    It was great but also challenging, because before then, I was not used to all that clamour, people stopping me to take a picture together or sign an autograph. I am the same person that I was one month ago. But it was all very nice
  • At what age did you start practicing this sport?
    Between 12 and 13 years old. I started practising it to strengthen my body to play volleyball, just for fun. Then, in 2012, I took part in the first competitions: the under 17 European Championship. 
  • And how did you end up?
    I was placed last, but I didn’t mind.
  • That was the starting point of your great career, instead. What were your expectations when you arrived in Tokyo?
    I was positively tense, but also wanted to win that medal: I wanted it at all costs.
  • It was not easy …
    The competition was fierce: I noticed it by looking at my opponents on social media: they were all in great shape. I would like to thank the Italian Army Sports Centre for having always helped and supported me.
  • Tell us something about you. How often do you train?
    Four days a week, with 2 workouts a day that last on average 2 hours each. The other 2 days (sometimes 3, because we also train on Sundays) I train for 2 hours, even 2 and a half hours.
  • Do you follow any special diet?
    I follow a healthy, balanced diet formulated by a nutritionist. Everything is always very balanced. 
  • Did you take a holiday after the Olympics?
    Only for a short time, because soon there will be the World Cup (early November). Obviously, I have discharged all the stress for the competition. I have always trained, even at the end of each competition, because the Olympic Games have always been my goal.  
  • Now you’re aiming at the next edition!
    Of course! After all, Paris is always…
  • What is your approach?
    We must get better results!
  • What will Mirko Zanni do at the end of his agonistic career?
    I hope I will still work in the sector. My goal is to bring weightlifting to a high level, but not in technical terms, because the Federation is already doing a great job, but rather from a popularity point of view: I would like people to really known what weightlifting is. In Italy, unfortunately, there are many stereotypes to dispel. 

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