Italian coach Ylenia Scapin won two Olympic medals in her career. Bronze in Atlanta in 1996 U72kg and bronze in Sydney in 2000 U70kg. After the Olympic Games she competed U63kg but switched back to U70kg in 2007. Scapin is still influential as a coach and helped Alice Bellandi to the Junior World title. She was coached herself by European, World and Olympic medallist Felice Mariani. We go back in time with Ylenia and wondered about one, now familiar, question … “If you could live one day from your competitive judo life again, exactly as it happened, with no changes.
Ylenia Scapin: Probably my last European Championship, in Lisbon in 2008. It was my 13th Championship and after seven medals I finally won the gold. I also won three bronze World Championships medals, but standing on the highest podium is always the goal.
In Lisbon, it was that perfect day. For my last European Championships, I brought my parents with me and they lived all the steps together with the team, without disturbing my concentration. Probably they helped me in focusing on this particular event.
I won the first contest against an Ukraine girl (Natalia Smal) and after that I fought against Rasa Sraka, the Slovenian athlete. In this fight I got hurt, I stretch my right leg in a tai otoshi but I felt that that was my day. In the semifinal I had to face the 2007 world champion Gevrise Emane. We had never met before in a competition but I trained with her at the Tokyo Training Camp in 2007 where I studied her judo and her mental approach to me. It has helped me a lot because after the first minute she started to lose intensity and also received a shido and I won the contest. After that victory I really felt to be able to reach the result I have ever dreamed.
In my life I had already fought in other two finals but never won the gold medal. Against the Spanish Leire Iglesias I was confident. In the years before I had competed in U63kg and U70kg and in the tournament in Lisbon in 2007 I had lost against Iglesias in the final. Now were back in Lisbon in the final, but this time it was different. This Ylenia was different and in my mind I really felt invincible and I was able to win the match.
When I stood on the podium I was that feeling: feeling invincible.
It was the feeling that I felt all day long and it increased match after match.
But I was also empty. This is what I felt after the "sore made". The medal I expected for years was finally true. I could stop and lie down on my knees waiting to understand if it was true or not.
I was so happy and witnessed by my parents. It was true, I had finally won the gold medal. My parents and my fourth Olympic Games in front of me, what else would I need?
After reviewing my career, I would like to say to current young athletes: Never stop dreaming. Never stop working to reach your goals. Always try to feel happiness in what you do because this is the only true "gold" of your life.