European shot put champion Giuseppe Campoccio has called on fellow throwers to join him at the first World Para Athletics Winter Challenge in Ancona, Italy, next month (27-28 October).
“Ancona will be the centre of the throwing world and I really hope that my colleagues will come and enjoy this first experience,” said Campoccio, who won shot put F33 gold at last month’s European Championships.
“Any kind of international event is the perfect setting to compete against each other, especially at this level, when every single country in the world has the possibility to participate.”
Campoccio also believes the two-day meeting, which is solely for throwers, will provide a vital chance to shine a light on field events which are not often in the spotlight.
“The idea of this event is simply fantastic, because throwers need better visibility at an international level,” he added.
“Television and media are frequently attracted to races and jumps; this is a way to make ourselves known and to let others appreciate the throwing events as well as the stories behind the throwers themselves.
“To the other athletes I say just come and enjoy the events; the world should know we are here to compete and we deserve lots of attention.”
Chasing global glory
For Campoccio, a former lieutenant colonel in the Italian Army and karate black belt, the Winter Challenge is also a valuable stepping stone towards his next major target – global gold.
“This is my dream,” said Campoccio, who seriously injured his right leg during a military training exercise nearly 30 years ago. A bone infection in 2015 resulted in further loss of function to his arm and leg and left him requiring a wheelchair.
“I hope to carry on dreaming and there are all the indications that this can happen.”
The 51-year-old only took up Para athletics three years ago, but his potential was quickly apparent as he went on to claim bronze at the World Championships last year.
His first major title came at the Berlin 2018 European Championships, with a winning throw of 11.17m – a mark that would have seen him top the podium in London a year earlier.
The current world number one, who has a best of 12.17m in the shot put F33, continued:
“Now I want to better myself and this is great motivation ahead of the World Championships. I expect next year to be a brilliant year, then I’m looking at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, which is the target for every single high-level athlete.
“I expect a good performance in Ancona. I want to get better and to keep throwing over 11 metres. The older I get, the better I get – like a good wine.
“Of course the excitement for me is double because everyone is expecting something from you. I just want to enjoy these two fantastic days in Ancona where the world of throws will be together.”