Italy's Romano Battisti not only got to the Olympic Games, but he did it with his original rowing idol, Alessio Sartori. After picking up an oar in 2001, Battisti proved that he'd found his calling making the Italian junior national team then the under-23 team. He went on to win his first World Championship title in the under-23 men's eight. Battisti then moved onto the senior team and showed his adaptability by racing in the four, the coxed pair, the double and the eight.
Teaming up with Sartori in 2012 proved fortuitous as the duo won Italy's sole rowing medal at the London Olympic Games. Sartori then retired and Battisti joined with Francesco Fossi. The duo won bronze at this year's World Rowing Championships in Chungju in the men's double sculls. Battisti's rowing career is really hitting its stride and World Rowing is privileged to have him as November's Athlete of the Month.
Athlete of the Month - November 2013
World Rowing: You mentioned that your training focus is on long sessions at present. What has been your hardest training day so far this month?
Romano Battisti: As I mentioned in the first interview we are doing long sessions at the moment. The hardest one is without doubt the afternoon session because we spend almost three hours in the boat.
WR: You mentioned that you wrote a book 'Doppio Giallo' on your experience with Alessio Sartori. What was unique about your situation that made it a worthy book to write?
RB: The story came out thanks to a local journalist who is passionate about rowing (Gianluca Atlante). Then we decided to tell our Olympic adventure to share our emotions and to give them to all the rowing supporters.
WR: When did the book get published and how has the interest been in the book?
RB: Yes, the book is very popular and people like it. We sold many copies, mostly in our home towns and in many schools. This is because it can be easily found in Italy and is sold in many book stores and in the internet.
WR: What was it like training with Alessio when he was your former rowing 'hero'?
RB: During the first days Alessio and I trained together I was very nervous and I concentrated a lot to avoid any mistakes that could have irritated him. Just think about that – so concentrated that I was not even able to talk J
WR: Are you currently training with your 2013 partner, Francesco Fossi? If so does that mean you are both based in Sabaudia?
RB: Yes, at the moment I train together with Francesco in my rowing club Fiamme Gialle, just in the centre of Sabaudia.
WR: What boat are you mainly rowing in at present?
RB: We train both in the single and in the double.
WR: When is your next race?
RB: I will participate in a stage of the Italian Championships of Gran Fondo (cycling race).
WR: During the winter training season do you have any camps that you go to (for warmer weather)?
RB: No, because our federation decided to have all of the winter trainings camps here in Sabaudia. The conditions on the lake and the climate are suitable for this.
WR: Are you a full time athlete?
RB: Yes, since 2008 I am a professional athlete and part of the Fiamme Gialle. This is an army sport group which supports athletes from different sports (like sailing, athletics and other Olympic disciplines).
WR: What are your long term goals in rowing?
RB: Thanks to the Olympic experience of London, which has left a strong emotion inside of me, I am training for the next Olympics.
World Rowing: How did you get into rowing and do any other members of your family row?
Romano Battisti: While I was following the Olympics in Sydney in 2000 I saw a rowing regatta for the first time in my life. I saw the men's quad, in which the Italians won a gold medal in a wonderful race. In that moment Raineri, Sartori, Galtarossa and Abbagnale became my idols and I immediately checked out where I could start rowing.
WR: Where are you at present and where will you be for the month of November?
RB: I am in Sabaudia, the city where I live with my family. I will stay here for most of my winter preparation.
WR: Did you take a break from rowing after the World Rowing Championships?
RB: I started preparing for the Italian Championships straight after the World Championships. After the Italian Championships I was able to take 15 days off and I had a well-deserved holiday.
WR: What is your training focus for November?
RB: I will dedicate it to long sessions in the boat and numerous sessions in the gym to get back into shape.
WR: Do you have any races this month?
RB: I would like to row at the Silver Skiff in Turin on 10 November but I am still waiting for my coach to confirm.
WR: You raced with Alessio Sartori at the 2012 Olympics. How did that partnership happen? Is Alessio still rowing?
RB: In 2012 Alessio and I were excluded from the national team. Since we were members of the same rowing club and used to train together, our coach Francesco Cattaneo tried to convince us to participate in the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne nonetheless.
Alessio and I wrote a book about this beautiful story (“Doppio giallo”) which we also would like to translate into English in order to make our story known to rowing fans and all kind of supporters. Alessio is now a junior coach.
WR: The 2013 season you raced with Francesco Fossi. How was this partnership chosen?
RB: After the Olympics I tried to row in the double in every possible combination with the guys from my team. Francesco and I immediately got along well together and straight from the first training session we found a good pace.
WR: You have rowed in a variety of boats through your rowing career, do you have a favourite boat to row in?
RB: My favourite boat is the eight, maybe because it is the boat I won my first medal in at the under-23 championships.
WR: What do you like to do outside of rowing?
RB: I enjoy biking and trekking in the mountains.
WR: What is something about you that not many of your rowing team would know?
RB: This is a very difficult question for me because usually I like telling everything to my crew mates so they have something to laugh about. So I don’t really have any secrets.
WR: Do you prefer training or racing better?
WR: Where is your favourite place to row?