Jubilant Italian, 93, finally overturns athletics ban

A record-breaking 93-year-old athlete has been given the green light to take part in competitions once more – two years after he was told he was 'too old' to compete.

Jubilant Italian, 93, finally overturns athletics ban
The 93-year-old Italian runner (not the one pictured) will be able to take part in competitions again. Photo: Stòlic Forlan/Flickr

Doctors decided to call time on Antonio Nacca's competitive running career in March 2014 – shortly after he broke three world records in his age category an indoor athletics championships in Novara, Piedmont.

Even though Italian pensioners are famed for their vitality, medics claimed the retired policeman's abnormal cardiac rhythm, a condition known as atrial fibrillation, made competing too dangerous at his age.

But after Nacca spent two years appealing the decision, even finding two independent sports doctors, who deemed him fit to run, Turin's regional athletics commission has said he will be allowed to return to competitions this weekend.

Nacca, who has been training hard for his return, told La Stampa of his joy at being allowed to take part.

“I'm extraodinarily happy. The last two years have been a real paradox – I've still been running to keep fit, but have been unable to compete,” he said.

“It's not as much fun, because you don't get any formal recognition.”

The competitive pensioner only took up athletics at the age of 56, after spending the majority of his adult life doing no more sport than playing for the police force football team.

“I decided to take up athletics after I dropped my daughter off for a race meet one day and noticed that there were people my age doing it,” he told Novarrasport.

Shortly before he was forced to stop, Nucca broke records in the over-90 age category, running 800m in 4m 16s, 1500m in 8m 33s and 3,000m in 18m 06s.

“My biggest victory came in 1988, when I finally gave up smoking.”

On Saturday, he will be hoping to set a new best when he laces up his running shoes for a 400-metre race. 

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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?