29 December 2022

Martina Caironi, the destiny of a champion

Becoming a Paralympic champion was not my original plan,” says Martina Caironi at a TEDx conference in June 2022. However, it is through sport that the Italian champion has rebuilt her life path.

Martina Caironi grew up in Bergamo, north-east of Milan, with her parents and two brothers. She is a member of the Fiamme Gialle club, a sports section of the Italian police force. Born in 1989, she has always been passionate about sports. She played volleyball before devoting herself to her studies in linguistics in Bologna. A lively person, her days are very rhythmic, “I couldn’t stay still for a while,” says Martina Caironi. I also liked to sing and listen to music all day. I think my childhood was happy, full of love and encouragement from my parents.

Martina Caironi’s life changed when she turned 18 in 2007, ” I was coming back from a party with my brother, and we had a scooter accident. I was coming back from a party with my brother, and we had a scooter accident. “she explains. After having her left leg amputated at knee level, the Italian quickly felt a click: “With all the love from my family and friends when I was in hospital, I quickly understood that I was lucky to be alive“.

Martina Caironi breaks the world record in the long jump T42 (5,46m) during the HOP 2022 – © F.Pervillé 2022

“I learned that a new and exciting life awaits me,” Martina Caironi

After her rehabilitation, Martina Caironi started para-athletics in 2010. A discipline she discovered by chance, in a waiting room two years earlier: ” I was going to test my first prosthesis and in the waiting room, there were pictures of para-athletes. This is what made me discover para-athletics and gave me the desire to do so “. For many athletes, having an idol or an example is a source of inspiration and envy. This was the case for “Marty”, as his relatives call him: ” In 2008, my father bought me a book by Oscar Pistorius (South African amputee and sprint specialist) whom I met for the first time at a conference he was holding in my city. From then on, I no longer felt “alone”. I learned that a new and exciting life awaited me “.

After her accident in 2007, everything went very fast for Martina Caironi. In 2010, she started para-athletics. A year later, she joined the Italian national team and participated in the IWAS World Games (championships for wheelchairs and amputees). During this competition, she won the 100m and finished 3rd in the long jump. Elle participe ensuite aux Jeux Paralympiques de Londres 2012 où elle remporte la médaille d’or du 100m T42 (amputés fémoraux) et la médaille d’argent du saut en longueur. Then in 2016, during the Rio games, she became flag bearer, for her second participation. At the time, she says ” I am extremely happy to have this honor. I am overexcited and I can only imagine myself in Rio, carrying the flag with the whole Italian team behind me “. A golden flag bearer as she will be titled in the 100m and silver medalist in the long jump.

A rebel…

A specialist in the 100m, 200m and long jump, Martina has had experiences that many athletes would like to have. However, it could have been different when she joined the Italian national team: ” I was a bit of a rebel, and I didn’t want to wear the same clothes as everyone else. I was proud to wear the Italian uniform, but I needed to personalize it in some way to feel free of obligation “, explains “Marty”.

© F.Pervillé 2022

The Paralympic champion has a very rhythmic daily life. Thanks to her club Fiame Gialle, she can live from her passion: ” I am a professional athlete, so I train 5 days a week, mostly in the morning. In the afternoon I can do anything “, explains the Italian. To break the routine, the weeks of “Marty” are ” generally fun. Sometimes I rest and have a physio session during the week, but often I do an activity. I give a public speech or attend conferences. I like to travel and see friends, so I try to do that in the little free time I have. I now live in the same city as my parents, which allows me to visit them and spend time with my relatives “.

… that performs

Two-time Paralympic champion and three-time Paralympic runner-up, Martina Caironi has had many successes at the World Championships. His first participation in a world championship was in Lyon in 2013. Her second major international competition marked the beginning of a great career with a world championship title in 100m and long jump.

Today, at age 33, Marty has five world championship titles to her credit. She is also the world record holder in the 100m T63 (category in which she was reclassified) with a time of 14.02s. But she is, above all, the first athlete in her category to have gone under the 15s mark, during the London World Championships in 2017. Next July, at the Charlety stadium, she will try to add to her list of achievements and why not try to beat a world record on a track she knows very well: ” I participated several times in the Handisport Open Paris, at Charlety. There, I set a new world record in the long jump (5.46m), at the 2022 edition. In this stadium I feel good because it is big and I can breathe and concentrate. Athletes are close to the public, but in a reasonable way so as not to be too distracted “.

For the Para Athletics-PARIS’23 World Championships, Martina Caironi hopes that ” many supporters will come to see us, encourage us and surprise us. I can already promise them that it will be worth it. It’s not about disability, it’s about ability. And once you’ve discovered the Paralympians, you’ll never want to leave them “.

Editor : Jimmy JOUBERT

Martina Caironi is wearing number 454 – © D.Echelard 2022

To see Martina Caironi at the World Para Athletics Championships – PARIS’23