"It is an honour to compete at the first Junior Worlds.”
As part of the Italian men’s 4x100m relay T42-47 team, Riccardo Bagaini claimed silver at the World Para Athletics Championships London 2017. Two weeks later, the 16-year-old is hoping to reach the podium again at the first World Junior Championships in Nottwil, Switzerland, from 3-6 August.
Bagaini will compete in three events, the men’s 100m, 200m and 400m T42-47, on the Swiss track. “I did not expect to take part in two different World Championships in the same year, but it is a great satisfaction for me at the same time,” he said.
Still fresh from competing at London 2017, the young sprinter admits it is a “big but beautiful responsibility to represent my country at such an event.
“London was amazing, unbelievable, indescribable. I want to thank the English people who was very welcoming and made us feel like at home.
“The atmosphere at the London Stadium was great. And that stadium was the most beautiful one I have ever seen.”
Looking ahead to Nottwil 2017, Bagaini aims to “achieve my personal best and try to win a medal. It is an honour to compete at the first Junior Worlds.”
The Italian used to play football and ski when he was younger. In 2013, Bagaini decided to try athletics and won a school sporting event for people with impairment.
He could never have imagined then that only three years later he would be competing at his home European Championships in Grosseto, where he finished eighth in the men’s 400m T47 and tenth in the 200m T47.
“I prefer to run than to play football,” he explained.
Bagaini looks up to Germany’s Rio 2016 champion Felix Streng because of his “running technique” and admires Brazil’s London 2012 gold medallist Yohansson Nascimento because of his “humility. I would like to become like him.”
After winning his first world medal and competing at the Junior Worlds, one might think competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics is Bagaini’s next goal. But despite admitting he would like to “take part in a Paralympic Games and win a medal,” he prefers to remain cautious.
“I am working for that, yes, but it is too early. Let’s give things time. At the moment I am studying in high school and planning to study economics at university.”