Rome

Fabulous Federica back in style with silver win

Pellegrini celebrated in Italy for surprise medal victory

Fabulous Federica back in style with silver win

(by Kate Carlisle) Rome, August 1 - Federica Pellegrini returned to Italy's front pages with her surprise silver-medal win Wednesday in the 200m freestyle at the World Swimming Championships in Barcelona. Heralded as "marvellous Federica" by Italy's leading sports paper, Gazzetta dello Sport, Pellegrini proved she has what it takes when she stepped out of a 12-month sabbatical that she began after doing poorly at the 2012 London Olympics to take second with just 33 centimeters difference from the lead. She had not planned to defend her 200m world title that she won in 2009 and 2011. Instead, she had only intended to compete in the 200m backstroke and some relay events before returning to her full training regime and her individual freestyle races after the world championships. She stuck to her plan not to compete in the 400m freestyle, a crown she also held after winning at the distance in the last two championships. Pellegrini, who won gold in the 200m freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, told Gazzetta that before the race she was calm. "My trainer (Phillippe Lucas) told me to think of nothing. Think that you are on your way to get married," she said. Sports psychologist Giuseppe Vercelli told Gazzetta that the key to her stunning win could be partially thanks to her relaxed approach and last-minute entry into the competition. "When you don't have expectations, you have the chance to concentrate more on the the athletic moves and this impacts the effectiveness of the performance," Vercelli said. I have a great, great, great daughter," her mother Cinzia enthused after the competition. "When she is without worries, she manages to give 100% of herself...this competition is her love," she said. Most certainly, Pellegrini's silver has refreshed Italian's endearment for the broad smiled, blond swimmer from the northern region of Veneto. "Fede forever, no doubts," gushed Gazzetta. Fede, short for Federica, also means faith in Italian. Without Pellegrini's silver, Italy was in danger of going home without a medal in pool events at the world championships first time since 1978. "I am overjoyed," said Pellegrini, 24, who came in at 1:55:14. The gold was won by American Missy Franklin, with a time of 1:54.81. The bronze went to Camille Muffat of France in 1:55.72. "I'm glad, I honestly did not even think I would be able to take a medal, it's really unexpected". On Wednesday, Pellegrini sounded philosophical about last year's Olympic losses. "The defeats make you grow," she told Italian State broadcaster RAI. "And in 10 years, I had many..." After her victory Pellegrini said that she dedicated the victory to herself. "After all that passed less than a year ago, I will dedicate (this victory) to me," she said. Pellegrini helped the Italian team win a place in the finals for the 4x200m freestyle relay on Thursday.

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