Italy PM hails 2021 as extraordinary year for Italian sport

Draghi praises the "incredible talent" of Italy's sporting champions.

Italy's premier Mario Draghi presided over the annual Collari d'Oro awards ceremony, the highest honour in Italian sport, at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome on Monday.

Hailing 2021 as "an extraordinary year" for Italian sport, Draghi said: "I am sure that for you, as for all champions, there can never be enough triumphs. However we must know how to appreciate victories when they happen. Fans, myself included, remember them all."

In addition to the Olympic or Paralympic athletes, the premier highlighted the many team successes including the men's national football team, winning the Euros, alongside the women's and men's national volleyball teams, also European champions.

Italian premier Mario Draghi with Gianmarco Tamberi at the Collari D'Oro awards ceremony. Photo ANSA.

Addressing the champions and their coaches, Draghi said: "The successes are due to your incredible talent. But also of the sports system you are part of: from neighbourhood gyms to Olympic swimming pools. An important part of every victory is managing success."

The prime minister cited the numerous sporting events coming up in 2022, including the European swimming championships which will be hosted in Rome, concluding: "I invite you to look to next season with the same determination with which you have faced this one."

During the ceremony it was announced that the ex-Formula One driver and Paralympic champion Alex Zanardi would be leaving hospital to return home for Christmas, 18 months after suffering serious head injuries in a handbike race in Tuscany.