Italy take on the big stage in Tokyo

Italy had a two-year wait until they could step inside the Makuhari Messe Hall sitting volleyball court to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The 12-strong Italian squad is now setting sights on turning their dreams into a reality.

“It’s a dream come true for us. We’ve actually been waiting for two years for this moment because of COVID. And now we’re here, and in those two years we have changed a lot,” Giulia Bellandi said.

“We’re not just here for the dream, we are here because we want something. I think my team deserves to be here and deserve to reach some big results. We want to be in one of the top three places, that’s our goal.”

“It was a long wait of two years and quite challenging because we just trained on Zoom during the lockdown,” Sara Cirelli added.

“In the last eight months, we made trained a lot even though we were in a stressful situation of living two lives, wherein we worked and trained for sitting volleyball. But now we are here in Tokyo, we are happy, and we will do our best here.”

Italy opened the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic sitting volleyball competition with a straight-set win against the home team. The Europeans also had a chance to play in front of group of students.

“It was nice, I thought the gym would be empty, but then I saw some students and I was happy about that. They were so polite,” Bellandi said.

“Crowds can help you to be more energetic and stronger during the game. But when there’s no public, actually, we have the control of the game. If the people don’t scream, you are concentrated, and you’re focused on what you do. There is no influence from the outside, so it can be a good thing, actually.”

Cirelli likes the challenge of being in the biggest game of her life and is making the best out of the Tokyo experience as they are facing the best squads in the world.

“This competition is amazing. We are excited and full emotions every single day that we are here. We grew a lot in this short period and we are ready for this competition. I hope that we could do our best,” Cirelli stated.

“The biggest challenge will be playing against Brazil because it is our first time to play them. We have to focus in that match since we are playing a good team like them.

“Playing in this court is a big challenge, but it’s also been the best for all of us.”