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Olympic Champion and Career Woman: Meet Silvia Salis (Exclusive Interview)

A native of Genoa, Silvia Salis is a passionate, inspirational, and determined woman of many talents. Sports have been part of Silvia’s life since the beginning. She was already showing promise in the long jump but her love for throwing the hammer paved her a new path. She dedicated her entire sporting career to this skill, proudly wearing the jersey of the Italian National Athletics Team in two rounds of the Olympics and now she is the Vice President of the Italian Olympic Committee. America Domani sat down with Silvia Salis to learn her story. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

America Domani: As the first woman to be the Vice President of the Italian Olympic Committee, can you tell us about your inspirational journey? 

Silvia Salis: Mine is a very complex and particular sporting story. Since I was 8 years old, I grew up in an athletic field: my father was the caretaker of the Villa Gentile Stadium in Genoa. I then had the opportunity to participate in the Olympics, and now I have the chance to be part of the national leadership of the Italian Olympic Committee. The philosophy of life of my family has been my example: dedication to work and respect for the sense of sacrifice, yours and others, and I believe that this has taught me the determination to achieve the goals I set even in my post-sports life. Today, I put into practice everything I have acquired in years of success in sports: a lot of work and maximum tenacity.

AD: In regards to the proposed reforms to Italian sport by the Italian government, what direction is it headed?

SS: We all hope that we will go in the direction of simplification: greater clarity in the field of sports work, of the tasks that fall to each player and within the CONI (Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano or The Italian National Olympic Committee), Sport e Salute - the Italian public company in charge of the development of sport in Italy and the Department and the Ministry of Sport. There will finally be a crystalline definition of the tasks aimed at helping above all the Clubs on the territory and grassroots sports to move in the world of Italian Sports Institutions.

AD: As a woman with a powerful role in sports management, do you feel your job comes with great responsibility?

SS: With only a few women in this industry, women are burdened with greater responsibility! Let's say that you are constantly under the fire of a magnifying glass and it is as if you have the responsibility of never having to or never being able to make mistakes. Fortunately, the detractors of the presence of women at the top of sports, as in other work sectors, are constantly decreasing. I like to think that I represent today, in my role, the women of the future.

AD: In 2022 you wrote a children’s book called The Strongest Girl in the World. What message are you hoping kids will take away?

SS: I realized that children, from early childhood, are still conditioned in their behavior by a series of negative clichés according to which the male must be strong and the female must be beautiful and graceful. All this negatively affects their growth and their expectations from life. The more messages of absolute gender equality we pass to our children, who are blank pages to write on, the easier it will be to create the conditions for a world without discrimination and violence. 

AD: With a child on the way, what kind of role model do you want to be for your future son?

SS: I would love to teach him, by example, that equality entails rights but also duties. I, in the sixth month of pregnancy, am still working, with limitations, and traveling a lot: I imagine like many other women in the world. For this reason, the little one will grow in the awareness that the members of our family are equal. My husband and I contribute equally to the realization of family projects, and I believe that if especially a male, grows up with this awareness, his attitude toward women will be decidedly positive and constructive.

AD: You have an affinity for the United States. What do you love about this part of the world?

SS: For me and my husband, the United States represents vacation, fun, and stimulation. We love spending our free time there. They are a country that offers immense opportunities, but with challenging rules: you can achieve a lot, but you have to work equally to maintain what you have achieved. There are, above all, social differences with Italy, but globally they are a country that we love to discover, even in small towns. As a couple, we took car tours in Florida and California and what we hope for our son Eugenio is to introduce him to this fascinating part of the world.

Barbara Benzoni

 Barbara Benzoni was born in Milan and lives between Rome and Tuscany. She is devoted to USA, the land of courage and innovation. She’s Peter's super-lucky mum and Ale's wife. Cinema, art, good food and only beautiful things are the themes of her existence. With a degree in Italian literature and a Masters in Sports Management she can both enjoys books and basketball matches. In 25 years she has been organizing sport events all over the world and she’s been lucky enough to meet the greatest champs ever. Curiosity in everyday life and people are her drivers. Her personal icon is Mohammed Ali : "It's not bragging if you can back it up".