Embracing dreams: the inspiring journey of champion Giulia Ghiretti

The month of August 2013 holds a special place in the life of Giulia Ghiretti, a young and talented swimmer who made her debut at the Montreal World Championships in Canada, where she won the silver medal in the 4×50 freestyle relay.

Fast forward ten years to July 2023, where Giulia graced the stage of the Fair Play Menarini International Award, captivating the audience with her beautiful tale of sportsmanship.

Her story begins at the age of 16, when lane challenges were not even on her mind.

In the happiest phase of her adolescence, during artistic gymnastics training gearing up for the Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships, a dreadful fall alters her life forever, causing her to lose the use of her legs.

However, this setback didn’t break the spirit of the young athlete. With the heart of a champion, she continued to fight for her dreams.

(Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Opting for a change of sport discipline, she shifted from gymnastics to swimming, and from that point onwards, her journey was marked by a series of successes. Bagging an impressive 24 international medals, including those from Paralympics, World Championships, and European Championships, she set numerous individual records.

Remarkably, Giulia Ghiretti achieved all this without losing her positivity, holding onto extraordinary determination, and becoming a shining example of strength and resilience.

At the 2023 Fair Play Menarini International Award ceremony, the young champion rightfully received recognition in the category “Sport beyond sport.”

Her desire to return to competitions, as she shared, is primarily a celebration of life: “Starting over was natural for me, thanks to my family, friends, and all those who stood by me without saying no, helping me approach things differently. During rehabilitation, they taught me to relearn my daily life, and sports became an integral part of it. I chose swimming. In the water, I learned more about myself. Everything I do depends on me.

Giulia possesses an extraordinary amount of tenacity, a trait that swiftly propelled her to the summit of the world swimming scene. Her life, however, is a mosaic of experiences, both within and beyond the water.

(Gianluca Moggi/New Press Photo)

She wrote an autobiography titled “Sono sempre io” (“I’m still me”), managed to earn a degree in biomedical engineering while juggling studies and training, and, most importantly, became an integral part of the Fiamme Oro sports group, marking a significant turning point.

Previously, high-level Paralympic athletes were not formally recognized alongside Olympic athletes. However, thanks in part to her stellar results, both categories now enjoy equal rights in Italian military sports groups and civil bodies.

Since January 2022, all Paralympic athletes can enlist. The bureaucratic hurdles have been overcome,” explained Giulia Ghiretti on the stage in Fiesole last July. She then shared thoughts on the challenges faced by people with disabilities: “There are many barriers. Physical barriers are the easiest to break down, while mental barriers are the most challenging.

The primary focus now shifts to France, precisely Paris, where the Paralympics are set to unfold between August and September 2024. It is there that Giulia Ghiretti aims to push her limits further, etching her name once again in the record books and igniting excitement among the multitude of Italian fans cheering her on.