From the top of the world, the "Formica Atomica" towers above the rest. After the three gold medals in the ball, hoop and ribbon specialties and the bronze in clubs, Sofia Raffaeli has inscribed another indelible page in the history of rhythmic gymnastics with a first-ever Italian world title win in the individual All-Around at the World Championships in Sofia. And what happened in Bulgaria really was the World Championships of Sofia (Raffaeli), if you’ll excuse the pun. The Azzurra athlete, indeed, topped off an already memorable day with an Olympic quota place for the 2024 Paris Games.
Raffaeli, second until the final round, stole the show with the ball and leaps to snatch the top step of the podium with 133.250 (hoop 33.800, ball 34.250, clubs 32.250, ribbon 32.950) ahead of the German Darja Varfolomeev (132.450) and the Bulgarian Stiliana Nikolova, who took bronze with 128.800. Fifth place went to the other Italian in the competition, Milena Baldassarri (124.900).
A medal, with an equally important dedication. "I would like to dedicate this world title to Marche, my homeland, and to all the families who are suffering right now”, said the 18-year-old who hails from Chiaravalle, “but also to my coaches, to Federginnastica, to the State Police and to my family. I was expecting to win, but not by so much". The Italian then analysed the day’s performance: "I'm not satisfied”, she added, “I could have done much, much better: today I was not able to do the things I know I’m capable of; I will try to improve even more. I always want perfection and I'm happy only when I know I've given everything".
The quota place secured by Raffaeli takes the Italia Team tally to three slots after those clinched, in shooting, by Silvana Stanco and Luigi Lodde. (Photo Ferraro/FGI).
The Azzurri currently qualified for Paris 2024 now stand at three (one man, two women) in two disciplines:
- Shooting - 2 quota places: 1 Trap woman, 1 Skeet man
- Gymnastics (rhythmic) - 1 quota place: all-around individual