'La Divina' bows out in style with one last victory.
Italian swimming champion Federica Pellegrini has won her last race, the 200m freestyle in Riccione on 30 November, before retiring from a record-breaking career.
The star, known as La Divina, did not hide her tears before undertaking her final race and was given a standing ovation when she won.
Pellegrini then convinced Giovanni Malagò, president of Italy's Olympic Committee CONI, to celebrate the occasion by diving into the pool in his clothes.
Malagò expressed his gratitude to Pellegrini, saying that her last race "must not be viewed as a sad moment, even if I understand that in some ways it is for everyone. Rather it is the recognition of her greatness".
Pellegrini, 33, also triumphed at the Tokyo Olympics over the summer, setting a new record by becoming the first female swimmer to qualify for a fifth Olympic final in an individual event.
The six-time world champion in 200m and 400m freestyle is the only swimmer − male or female − to have won eight medals in a row in the same event (200m freestyle) at the World Championships.
A record-breaking career
Born in Venice in 1988, Pellegrini is the first female Olympic champion in the history of Italian swimming and the only Italian swimmer to have set world records in more than one event.
Her first Olympics was at Athens 2004, when she won silver medal at the age of 16, becoming the youngest Italian athlete ever to win an Olympic medal in an individual event.
This was followed by a gold medal in Beijing in 2008, before coming fifth place in London in 2012 and sixth at Rio in 2016.
Pellegrini was recently elected to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes' Commission, a new role that "will be my job" said the swimmer after her last race. Cover photo Io Donna
Si chiude con un oro nei 200 stile libero ai Campionati italiani invernali la straordinaria carriera agonistica di Federica Pellegrini. Dopo la gara, la festa e il tuffo in piscina mano nella mano con il presidente del Coni Giovanni Malagò pic.twitter.com/WzzyJ1ft6w
— Tg3 (@Tg3web) December 1, 2021