When Italy won its first European team title in gymnastics back in 2006, Angela Andreoli had not even been born yet. Then last week, Andreoli and her teammates Alice D'Amato, Asia D'Amato, Martina Maggio, and Giorgia Villa dominated the team event at the 2022 European Championships held in Munich, Germany, winning by nearly four points. The team also had medalists in every individual event except for the balance beam, including Asia D'Amato’s all-around victory. Additionally, the junior Italian team won its event by over three and a half points and won medals in every individual event, indicating that Italy is here to stay as a gymnastics powerhouse.
Italy’s recent success can be traced back to 2006, a historic year that saw Italy winning its first European team title and Vanessa Ferrari becoming Italy’s first World all-around champion. Then in 2007, Ferrari became Italy’s first European all-around champion. These results brought a lot more attention to Italian gymnastics and inspired the next generation of gymnasts.
In particular, a group of four gymnasts born in 2003 showed exceptional promise in the junior ranks and quickly became known as the “Core 4” or “The Golden Generation.” Alice and Asia D’Amato, Giorgia Villa, and Elisa Iorio fulfilled this promise in just their first year on the senior level when they led Italy to a team bronze medal at the 2019 World Championships, Italy’s first World team medal since 1950. The D’Amato twins then joined Maggio and their idol Ferrari at the 2020 Olympic Games where they finished fourth by only 0.458 behind Great Britain.
“In Tokyo, we found Great Britain in front and that fourth place gave us the energy to put even more effort,” Alice D’Amato told OA Sport.
The team competition at the 2022 European Championships essentially became another showdown between Italy and Great Britain, but this time for the gold. This time, the Italians prevailed.
"This victory does not cancel the disappointment of fourth place in Tokyo," Asia D’Amato said to OA Sport. "The Olympic medal is unmatched. We have redeemed ourselves, perhaps we have taken revenge with Great Britain.”
The Italian team also collected many medals in the individual events at the European Championships. The all-around results were determined by the scores from the qualification round, and Asia D’Amato came out on top with a total score of 54.732 to become Italy’s second European all-around champion. Alice Kinsella from Great Britain won the silver medal with a total score of 54.132, and Maggio won the bronze with a total of 53.965, and likely would have won the gold if she had not fallen on the uneven bars.
“When I made that mistake on the uneven bars, I thought I would miss the podium, but you need to compete until the end and seeing my name among the medallists is something I can't describe," Maggio told the Olympic Channel.
In the vault final, Zsófia Kovács from Hungary won her second European vault title, winning the event in 2020 as well. The all-around champion Asia D’Amato finished right behind her to capture the silver medal, but she injured her foot on the second vault and could not attend the medal ceremony, and had her coach Enrico Casella accept her medal instead. The bronze medal was won by Aline Friess from France. Then in the uneven bars final, Elisabeth Seitz won the gold medal in front of a home crowd by only 0.033 points more than Alice D'Amato. France picked up another bronze medal in this event with Lorette Charpy, who had the highest difficulty score in the final but fell behind due to the execution score.
Asia D’Amato had to withdraw from the balance beam final due to her injury in the vault final, and she was replaced by Maggio who finished fourth. The balance beam podium was the only one without an Italian, and Germany’s Emma Malewski made a big breakthrough to win a gold medal, the first international individual medal of her senior career. Ondine Achampong from Great Britain and Carolann Héduit from France both scored 13.400, but Achampong won the silver medal because of the execution score tiebreaker. Then in the floor final, Great Britain’s Jessica Gadirova won her second consecutive European floor title ahead of Italians Maggio and Andreoli.
Although Asia D’Amato’s injury is certainly a major concern for the Italian team as they look ahead to the World Championships in two months, the Italian team showed at these European Championships that they are a serious medal contender and that their bronze in 2019 was no fluke. The junior team winning seven medals including the team gold highlights Italy’s promising future even after the current “Golden Generation.” Italian gymnastics is continuing to make history and fighting for more and more medals, and they are certainly poised to have success at the upcoming World Championships in Liverpool.