5 time World Champion, including AA gold medalist Sofia Raffaeli (Italy) managed to become the most decorated individual gymnast at the Worlds in Sofia this year at just 18. We talked to her and her coach about performing in their second home and their goals for next year.
First of all, congratulations. Today [Sept 17th] is the day of Sofia, and also your name day. How special is it to win gold on this day exactly? Also, your medals all have your name on it.
SR: It’s a very big emotion, I’m so happy for this medal, because it’s very important for me, for Italy, for my coaches. I tried to do my best in this competition.
Bulgaria has proved to be a special place for your coaches, for Milena 4 years ago, and now for you. What was it like to perform here? The Bulgarian fans really supported you, but there are also many Italians here.
SR: In this city I feel at home, for the public of Italy, but also for the Bulgarian team. I’m very happy to have competed here.
You also won an olympic spot today, that takes a certain pressure off of your chest. What are your goals for next year?
SR: I’ll try to do better and better every day, in order to arrive strong and at pace at the World Championships.
What is your favorite routine of this season?
SR: It’s clubs, but I didn’t do my best [with them] in this World Championships.
Maybe you have unfinished business with it and you can keep it for next year?
SR: Yeah, maybe, but all of the exercises by Julietta Cantaluppi and my coaches are very, very beautiful.
Julieta Cantaluppi spoke with us in her mother tongue, Bulgarian.
Such a huge success exactly here, on this day, and with Sofia.
JC: It was very important for us to fight for this, it wasn’t a sure thing, but she succeeded. To me, it was very important that we won in Bulgaria, in front of the Bulgarian crowd which I love so much, and of course on Sofi’s name day, so it was all perfect.
Were you worried that things might not go as planned?
JC: Today for sure wasn’t the best competition of Sofia’s carrier, we started well, but she made a mistake, after which she got a little nervous. I think the “key” to the competition was the ribbon, since the same thing happened in Tel Aviv. I was worried whether she wouldn’t perform well in ribbon, but she showed me that she had grown in her head, that she had matured in these months and did the exact opposite this time: she showed a great ribbon routine. It’s a difficult apparatus for all gymnasts, so it was very important. For the other two apparatuses, we just needed to manage without any drops. They weren’t her best performances, but it was important to avoid huge errors.
Will Sofi winning a spot for the Olympics relax the working process?
JC: Our work is never relaxed, because every year you need to prove that you deserve the spot, since it’s not nominative, and the fight will for sure be serious. Nonetheless, it’s great that we succeeded in obtaining the ticket 2 years in advance.
How did the group competition affect you?
JC: It was very unexpected, but I don’t think Sofi or Milena got distracted or destabilized by it. The moral of the story was that competitions don’t always go as we want them to and as planned.
Next year we’ll try to do even better, more beautiful and harder routines. At the same time, we want to come up with new elements and new stories to tell [through the routines].