mercoledì 24 Luglio 2024
23.7 C
mercoledì 24 Luglio 2024

Exclusive interview to Manila Esposito: from beginner to World finalist

“I lived a dark period during my early carrier when I wanted to quit with gymnastics. I was so lucky to have been surrounded by the right people, who urged me to never stop believing in my dreams. They’ve been right so far, let’s see what’s next.”

In Evidenza

First timer in Liverpool 2022, European silver medallist in Antalya 2023, currently All-Around world finalist in Antwerp 2023, we had the pleasure to interview the new Italian star Manila Esposito, who just helped Team Italy qualify for the next Olympic Games of Paris 2024.

This is your second Worlds participation: how different did you feel this time compared to last year’s?

This one was completely different. Last year I competed as my first time ever as a Senior. Because of Covid I skipped most of junior events, and later becoming a Senior I had never competed in any context like that: no Europeans, no international events, no World Cups, nor anything like that. This year I had the chance to experience more international fields, step by step: starting with Euros in Antalya, followed by World Cups and now, competing in Antwerp. Last year I was literally thrown into that, as I was not supposed to compete until the injuries our team had to deal with.

That’s exactly how Manila Esposito made it official to be part of the National Team, feeling (quote) like a fish out of water, and how she gets in contact with the crowd in such a warm Arena:

I met gymnasts I never thought I would (have) – says moved – I’m used to that enthusiasm of Italian Serie A, but that was just awesome! I’ve never seen some many people cheering for us! Everything was new to me.

At Antwerp World Championships Italy not only confirms a fifth place, but also qualifies for Paris 2024 with a renewed team guided by Elisa Iorio, Veronica Mandriota, Manila Esposito, and the first timer Angela Andreoli, and Arianna Belardelli.

Esposito also qualifies for the All-Around final, ranking 9th, and almost qualifying to two more event finals. All this seems to be more than expected, nearly unbelievable, compared to her first time in Liverpool 2022:

The first day of Qualifications I did a good job, but I knew I could do better, particularly on beam. I performed the routine I’m capable of in Team Final, which was too late already. I can’t say I forgot about it, and I hoped someone withdrew from the beam final, but it never happened. It’s ok, it was not my moment. Next time I’ll do better, I still have time.

About her European silver beam medal, Esposito describes it as “a great experience which formed me as a gymnast and helped me face Worlds better. I didn’t imagine to be in a final, least of all to win a medal! – concludes astonished.

You appear as one who isolates during competitions. How do you deal with unexpected events and anxiety? How do you keep calm?

Over time, I’ve learnt how to manage feelings and what surrounds me during competitions. When I was younger, I used to think of calm as the key to success, and that’s exactly what I focus on. I realize my performance only once I’ve done it, and I’ve also learnt how to feel calm even when I’m not at my 100%. I just try and enjoy the moment, not look around and keep myself focused.

Last year you moved to Brescia, and you now train at the International Academy together with the National Team. How was it?

That was an important choice which I’ve made on my own. My family supported me, even though it’s never easy to leave home. It was crucial to me to finally have a group to compare myself with. It made me grow not only as a gymnast, but also as a person, and it’s exciting to train with those girls, like Giorgia Villa, D’Amato twins, Martina Maggio, Vanessa Ferrari…I hope one day I’ll be successful as they are.

Manila Esposito now feels as part of the Team, also because it’s never easy to be part of it without training together:

I started believing more in myself. They taught me how to take on every new experience, such as international events and fields, but also issues. If I have a problem in the gym, I know they can help me, and I know I can support them too. Most of us live further from home and family, so they understand how hard it fells sometimes when you miss home, and they know exactly how to comfort one another. Every time I miss my family, I think of how far I’ve come, and how proud it makes me, and everything makes sense to me. My parents and my brothers, together with my grandparents, never miss a competition.

If you think of next year: Paris 2024. What do you think?

I don’t know. Of course, I hope I’ll be there, but I don’t think so. Going to the Olympics is my biggest dream. If it’s not next year, then it will be in 2028. Paris 2024 is too early right now even to think of it, but for sure I’ll do my best to try and be there for the team. Otherwise, I’ll work harder for Los Angeles 2028.

Segui sui social

Martina Paganelli
Martina Paganelli
Nata e cresciuta a Bologna, attualmente vivo, mi alleno e lavoro nell'ambito della ginnastica a Civitavecchia. Ho 24 anni e sono entrata in contatto con questo meraviglioso sport all'età di 7, senza mai smettere di amarlo. Sono studentessa magistrale in Lingue per la Comunicazione Internazionale, amo scrivere e, since 2012, grande fan di @Ginnasticandoit, quindi eccomi qua! Giornalista Pubblicista - Tessera n. 9936

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