«The emotion of winning an Olympics can only be overcome by the motherhood».
Diana Bacosi started winning medals in the skeet (shooting specialty) in 2004 with the first silver at the European Championships and from there she hasn’t stopped. One success after another, up to the gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. Diana Bacosi is a woman, a mother and an Olympic champion, who took the shotgun for the very first time when she was 14 years old. «Tokyo 2020 is waiting for me now. After all, this is a sport that does not have age limits».
Diana, what is your link with Umbria?
I was born in Umbria in Città della Pieve and I have always lived in Cetona in Tuscany, on the border between the two regions. It’s 10 years old that i have been living in Rome, but I usually train in Umbria and I often go back to relax.
As yu grown up in the province of Siena, do you feel more Umbrian or Tuscan?
When I am asked this question, I always answer: I fee l Italian.
I read that you picked up the first rifle at 14: what does drive a little girl to this type of sport?
Dad used to go the shooting contests and I follone him to spend time together . The first few times I only sat on one side and I scored the points. One time, my dad told me: “Diana, would you like to try?” And from that moment on I did not stop shooting. I immediately enjoyed it and it became my passion.
Do you think that you will have Umbrian heir?
There is a boy from Spello, Emanuele Fuso, who is emerging and in the coming months we will see where he will be able to arrive.
Was it more exciting for you: to win your very first competition or the Olympic medal?
Winning an Olympic medal is a unique emotion, also because you get there after a long preparation.
More exciting than becoming a mother?
No, that’s above all and everyone. But gold comes soon after.
How do you prepare to face an Olympics?
It is a journey that lasts over a year. Step by step, race after race you arrive at the Olimpic. There is a physical and mental preparation with breathing exercises, cardiac controls and techniques to take under control the anxiety that may arise during the race. Then there is a schedule of competitions for the entire period that precedes the Olympics: they are only a few, always with the same weapon and the same cartridges.
Try to predict everything, but atmospheric factors are unpredictable. How do you deal with them?
Those can not be predicted, but we try to be prepared, training even in poor conditions and experiencing all the climatic factors. For example, I prefer a storm to the rain. A friend of mine instead loves shooting with rain.
Is there an ideal situation?
Yes, not too much sun, the blue sky and a clean background without mountains or hills.
A little curiosity: where do you keep the medal?
In a bank safe.
How would you describe Umbria in three words?
Serenity, beauty and hospitality. Umbrian people have always been so close to me.
The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…
The bow, the inseparable Robin Hood’s weapon of choice, is still considered an instrument of great appeal.
Riser, limbs, string, button and arrow rest: these are the principal components of the bow. There are many new additional components in the modern bow, such as the stabilizer and the sight. Bows have become so diverse that they can be separated into five categories, which are: straight, recurve, delta, asymmetric and compound, all with varying shapes and sizes. The compound bow is the most recent category and the most engineered bow of our time. It has a sophisticated system of cable and pulleys which reduces the traction force, so much so that in the archery they are compared to machines rather than to the traditional bow.
foto di Mirko Giattini Moriconi
Forged on the archer
The origin of this magnificent object has deep roots in history. The first appearance of the bow was in the Paleolithic age as an hunting instrument. Over time its use bonded with the warfare, especially after the creation of borders between territories, in particular by the wish of their kings to widen them, becoming a permanent fixture in the battles. Historically each culture developed its own type of arch, based on the available material and manner of use. One of the biggest factors in developing the bow style was weather the archer was sitting on a horse or standing. In the first case the bow was longer, in the second one it was shorter. At one point in time the bow was customized to the physical needs of each individual archer to provide better performance. But after the Hundred Year War (1337-1453) the production of bows became a mass production, removing the peculiarities that characterized every single arch to conform in a standard bow. And because of that, new battle tactics emerged. Instead of being a precision weapon, the bow was now used in large groups so accuracy was not as large as a factor.
However the use of this tool has progressively decreased, replaced by stronger and more destructive weapons, and for almost three centuries the bow has been forgotten until the 20th century when it was resumed in the field of sport. In fact, at that time the archery became a Olympic Games sport, excluded then from 1920 to 1972. In Italy archery had success as a hobby for adolescents. Since the 1930s, under the fascism regime, it became a sport just for girls to such a point that a particular group called Giovani Italiane took form and the first female competition, organized by Accademia di Educazione Fisica, was held in Orvieto, a small town in Umbria. The first Italian archery company has been developed in 1956 in Treviso and managed the contests for both sexes. Nowadays in Italy there are two main Federation called Federazione italiana Tiro con l’Arco (FITARCO), born in 1961, that is divided in twenty regional committees, and Federazione Italiana Ariceri Tiro di Campagna (FIARC) created in 1983 representing the Italian association of the International Archery Association (IFAA).
foto di Mirko Giattini Moriconi
Now the archery is not just a sport. In fact, there are a lot of amateurs lovers of this practice that claim it as a hobby. The reason for this recent spike in interest in archery is due to many different factors such as the cinematography, the historical reenactment, and some tourist accommodation proposing it as a open-air practice to stay in contact with nature. But an interesting point is the Japanese philosophy about archery.
In fact, in Japan the archery is considered a life-style. There are many parallels with life itself, with its facets and circumstances, sometimes favorable and sometimes not, that culminate with the human development of self-control, whereby it is possible to reach any objective. One of the authors who speaks about this philosophy is Paulo Coelho in his book The way of the bow, in which he describes how the bow became a symbol to live with a self-awareness: the bow represents life, source of the human energy, while the arrow is the intention which means «the thing that leads the force of the arch in the middle of dartboard» (p.55). The dartboard is the goal to reach and, in order to do that, it is necessary to be in the proper spiritual condition, picturing it as it gets closer and closer to the archer. Shooting the arrow means that the man is aware of all the steps taken until then, where each one of them is essential with all its own intrinsic and inestimable values meaning that it takes a lot of time and effort to reach the moment before the shot. It’s something that would make anyone to begin this practice.
Becoming an archer in Umbria
For that purpose, the region of Umbria has many facilities that offer archery: there are a lot of agritourism that provide it as an activity to practice surrendered by the beauty of the Green Heart of Italy. Also, it is possible to participate to amateur classes with the release of certificates. For example, two associations of Terni, the sporting association called Gaia and the Dreavel agency, organize outdoor activity days, including archery, which is held respectively in Fiastra and Norcia, and right here people can attend to a course of bow’s construction. Always in Norcia, the Sibillini Adventure association holds specific courses about instinctive archery (the original bow), starting to the basic course of 18 hours, including both theoretical and practice lessons, with a final certification of participation. Finally there is the Activo Park in Scheggino, a little Umbrian village, immersed in the typical wild nature of Valnerina, where it is possible to do many activities for kids and for adults, among which is archery.
foto di Mirko Giattini Moriconi
But archery is not just a hobby. In fact in Italy we can find it in the aforementioned historical re-enactments, particularly present in Umbria. Usually, during these re-enactments are representation of days from the bygone eras, when the towns and Umbrian villages were divided into factions, often competing with each other. Historic marches, taverns and playful events characterize these moments, performed strictly wearing traditional robes and in specific times of the year. The challenges between factions, called by different names from place to place, are competitions whose the aim is the conquest of a prize, named Palio, which is namely a tapestry painted by some famous artist. In Umbria there are three historical re-enactments where the main challenge is a archery competition: two of them take place in Todi, the third in Città della Pieve.
In the case of Todi, both the archery competitions are held in the FITAST national championship (Italian Federation Traditional e and Historical Bow): the first race is in April and is known as Todi città degli arcieri, where 200 archers challenge each other on twenty pitches; the second, in October, is called Disfida di San Fortunato and provides a maximum of 120 archers competing on a course of 10 pitches, with the wonderful historical center of Todi as the background.
Alternatevely, the so-called Palio dei Terzieriis held in Città della Pieve in August. The town was divided in terzieri, portions of lend which were unevenly divided into the Castello Medievale, or knights class, that identified aristocracy; Borgo Dentro, referring to bourgeoisie class; Casalino, or pedestrian class, which means farmers class. The main challenge is known as Caccia del Toro (Hunting of the Bull), where three archers for each terziere has to shoot moving targets shaped like a bull, all situated on the same carousel. The competition is divided in three times, and every last one the speed of the gauges-target increase. The winner will get the prize (Palio), a tapestry in which the symbols of the three Terzieri and the high coat of arms of the town are depicted. That trophy will be kept by the winner until next challenge.
A sporting and historical instrument, and recently also endowed with a philosophical connotation, the bow represents a sort of link between the man of antiquity and modern man. This link allows the latter to escape from technologies that invade the everyday life and to savor the sense of the reality.
Enzo Maolucci (2012) Arco per tutti, Hoepli, Milano.