Imagen
20695-Veronica Yoko Plebani photo

Veronica Yoko Plebani

Canoe

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
PTS2

Further personal information

Residence
Palazzolo sull'Oglio, ITA
Occupation
Athlete, Student
Languages
English, German, Italian
Higher education
Political Science - University of Bologna: Italy

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She took up Para triathlon in 2017, having previously competed in Para canoe and Para snowboard.
Why this sport?
She was inspired after attending a triathlon event at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she had competed in Para canoe. "It was love at first sight. I remember asking for information from some triathletes in the canteen about distances, rules, how it worked. Then when I was back in Italy, I immediately started preparing for this new experience."
Club / Team
707 Team Minini: Italy
Name of coach
Antonio Serratore [club]

General interest

Most influential person in career
Her father. (Athlete, 20 Nov 2013)
Hero / Idol
New Zealander paddler Lisa Carrington. (letteradonna.it, 29 Apr 2016)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Replace words with actions." (art4sport.com, 2013)
Other sports
She represented Italy in Para canoe sprint at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and Para snowboard at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russian Federation. (triathlon.org, 2017; abilitychannel.tv, 01 Jun 2016)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (bgsalute.it, 09 Feb 2021)
Impairment
The impairments to her hands and feet are the result of bacterial meningitis. She was diagnosed with the illness in April 2011. "I was hospitalised from April to September [2011]. My blood no longer circulated, scattered skin haemorrhages appeared, and my extremities became cold and purple, breathing was extremely difficult and my consciousness worsened within hours. To save me they had to amputate my fingers and toes. The scars are a consequence of my internal burns. Meningitis has changed my body, it left many scars. It was a traumatic experience. At age 15 it was not easy to have a transformed body. But I'm still the same Veronica. I feel unique. I have no shame. In the first months out of the hospital, sport showed me how many incredible things my body could do and, somehow, made me love it even more." (bgsalute.it, 09 Feb 2021; vogue.com, 05 Feb 2019; Athlete, 20 Nov 2013)
Other information
FAVOURITE DISCIPLINE
She says cycling is her favourite discipline in Para triathlon. "If I really have to choose, cycling is my favourite. I feel good on the bike and I have a lot of fun. I feel free, with the fact that I can do long laps and pedal for miles. And I can also do it with friends as well as teammates." (tuttobiciweb.it, 13 Jul 2021)

BODY IMAGE
She says she has been open about her impairment through social media to promote a positive message. "I'm very bad when it comes to sticking to skincare and makeup. At first I wasn't so confident showing my 'new body' with all of these scars, but then I realised that it could help break prejudices and stereotypes. When I shared photos of me in swimwear for the first time, I was shocked by all the positive messages. With body positivity, social media is helping to contribute to a more confident society. Not long ago [speaking in July 2021] a mother from Australia messaged me to say that she has a six-year-old girl suffering from the same disease as me, and refusing to go to school because she was ashamed to have different tutors and shoes. She showed her daughter what I do, and since then the little girl has been enthusiastic and showing my photos to her friends. If I can help, even just one girl or boy, to feel more confident in his or her body, that means the world to me." (tuttobiciweb.it, 13 Jul 2021; repubblica.it, 31 Jan 2021; vogue.com, 05 Feb 2019)

OTHER ACTIVITIES
In 2021 she began serving as a representative for Para triathletes with the Italian Paralympic Committee [CIP]. She has also served as an ambassador of Art4sport, a non-governmental organisation that encourages young people with limb deficiencies to try sport. (fitri.it, 07 May 2021; repubblica.it, 31 Jan 2021; letteradonna.it, 29 Apr 2016)

BOOK
In 2020 she released the novel 'Fiori affamati di vita' [Flowers hungry for life]. "In the book I tell a story of when I was in hospital, I thought I had to be like a flower that had to learn to roar. At some point I did it. I didn't want to write an autobiography, so I thought a novel would be the best genre." (bgsalute.it, 09 Feb 2021; corriere.it, 13 Dec 2020; intoscana.it, 23 Oct 2020)

NAME ORIGIN
Her middle name Yoko was given to her by her mother, who liked Buddhist culture. "My mother wanted the name because it means sunny and cheerful. It is also the name given to Japanese girls who are born in March." (tuttobiciweb.it, 13 Jul 2021)

Results

Unit Date Rank
Paralympic Winter Games 2014 (Sochi, Russia)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Para Snowboard Cross Standing Final Round 2014-03-14 11
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's KL3 Heat 1 2016-09-14 2
Women's KL3 Final 2016-09-15 6