GROTTAFERRATA, Italy (Reuters) – Gymnasts around the world have been trying to stay fit amid tough restrictions during the COVID-19 crisis, and Italy is no exception. With the country’s gym clubs and training facilities closed for more than two months as part of government measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, gymnast Marco Lodadio, a silver medallist in the rings event at the 2019 world championships, turned his garden into a fitness studio. Without the sophisticated facilities top-level athletes usually use, Lodadio worked on a swing structure to make it suitable for rings training.
“Before the start of the quarantine, I managed to set up a small structure in my garden so I can train for a couple of hours a day to stay in shape,” the 28-year-old said.
Athletes in Italy have been allowed to train individually outside their homes since Monday but sports facilities are still closed. Lodadio, who started gymnastics aged nine at the gym his parents owned, is now looking to emulate Italian great Jury Chechi, who won rings gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and bronze in Athens in 2004.
“At the beginning it was a comparison that I did not accept because we are talking about two different eras and about two athletes with different characteristics,” he said.
Lodadio, however, will have to deal with the comparison as he prepares for next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
“Jury is a reference and at that point of my career, I’m looking to come as close as I can to this great champion,” he said.
Reporting by Fabio Franchitti, writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond