At only 17 years old, Chiara Pellacani is already a two-time European Champion, in both springboard and platform. Yet, her career has only just begun, and she is now training to qualify for next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
When Pellacani was a child, she used to do lifesaving swimming. She took up diving when a classmate asked her to give a try. She has not stopped since. What she did not know was that she would go on to become an international diver.
“For a while, I was doing both sports. But then at one point, I had to pick one, and I chose diving because I had more fun at it,” Pellacani told the Sports Gazette.
Her first international success in the senior team came in 2018 when she won the gold with Elena Bertocchi in 3-metre synchronised diving at the European Championships in Glasgow. A year later, she won one more gold with Noemi Batki in 10-metre synchronised diving in Kyiv.
“Elena and Noemi helped me grow as an athlete and as a person. Partnering with them helped me become calmer and manage my anxiety during competitions,” she said.
Now, only two competitions stand between Pellacani and her Tokyo dream — the Italian Championships and the World Cup. She will need to finish first at the Italian Championships to qualify for the World Cup. And then she will need to finish as one of the top 18 in the individual event and top eight in the synchronised event at the World Cup to book a flight to Tokyo.
Although she regularly competes in both springboard and platform, and in individual and synchronised events, she is focussing on the synchronised events and the individual 3 metres for her preparation for Tokyo 2020.
In the Italian Championships, Pellacani will be competing against Italy’s best synchronised divers like Tania Cagnotto and Francesca Dallapè. The duo had retired after winning silver at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. They returned to the sport at the end of 2018 and started training again with the hope to qualify for one more Olympics.
“Competing against them is an incentive for me to do even better in my competitions,” Pellacani told the Sports Gazette.
For Pellacani, it was not an easy road to get to this level at such a young age. She still goes to school and has training every day.
“One of the challenges is to accept the fatigue during training and it is not an easy thing to do. And then there are more daily sacrifices like not going out with your friends because you need to go for training the next morning,” she said.
Pellacani is already dreaming big as she is trying to learn and perfect new dives. She is working on the forward two-and-a-half somersault with two twists to increase the difficulty of her programme
Whether Pellacani wins or not at the Italian Championships, the event will sure see two generations of divers competing each other to decide who will get a chance to fly to Tokyo.