Dreams, sports and disabilities in the words of Lieutenant Colonel Marco Iannuzzi

(To Anita Fiaschetti)

At the age of six he had a dream or perhaps already clear ideas: to become a pilot. This is how the chat begins with the Lieutenant Colonel of the Italian Air Force Marco Iannuzzi, head of the Sports Promotion and Development Department for Disabled Defense Personnel. He of the GSPD - Paralympic Sports Defense Group - is among the veterans: he remembers well when in the 2013 at the signing of the letter of intent between the Ministry of Defense and the Italian Paralympic Committee they were only 5 Paralympic, of which 4 in service in the role of honor . Today, after a few years, that number has grown a lot, reaching well-registered 42, of which 20 is in service.

Let's go back to the starting point. What at six years seemed just a dream, over time has become a reality for Iannuzzi. In Caserta he attended the Aeronautical Technical Institute and in the 1994, when he was only sixteen, he took the flight license. In the 1997 and 1998 he tries the competition for the Academy, but he is rejected both times, until in the 1999 he wins both the competition for the Academy and the one for AUPC - Complementary Pilot Official Student. The choice was inevitable, as he himself declared: "the complement pilot in his life does one thing: fly". A dream come true, even if things do not always go as expected. In January of the 2000, during the training course at the 70 ° Stormo of Latina, Iannuzzi has an accident: "it went well, we are alive and there has been no damage to third parties. But we were unlucky because the grass field where we decided to make the landing was too short to stop the plane from running, otherwise we would have done nothing".

Explosion of a lumbar vertebra, the diagnosis. After the accident: everything to be redone. "The questions you ask yourself when you have an accident are: why me? Why this? In reality the answer is not there, so you are right to change the questions you ask yourself: how can I get out? What do I have to do to get my life back on track? The sooner you understand it the better it is for you and those close to you". And it is with this spirit that Marco embarked on his new life. "The doctors said it would be unlikely to get back on their feet and have a gait like the one I have today. For two years I dedicated myself to physiotherapy, doing up to ten hours a day. I wanted to get back on my feet. This is where I approached swimming: from physiotherapy to passion. I had the pleasure of being part of the Paralympic swimming team from 2002 to 2009 inclusive; 8 Italian championships, a European, a world championship. The Olympics is missing, but I still enjoyed it ”.

Having an accident means losing fitness for the service and going to leave: "I persisted in wanting to return to my job through the honorable role and I succeeded: in January of the 2003 I entered the Army General Staff. From there for several years I worked on the Aeronautical Magazine and External Relations. Mine is the testimony of those who managed to reinvent themselves in the Armed Forces, the same that never leaves you alone ”.

Work, sports and more. Several challenges that the lieutenant colonel has taken in his life: from the degree in Communication Sciences, to trips made in the Himalayas or on the Chinese Wall with the woman who has been at his side for seven years: "when we met, nobody would have bet on us because we are on opposites, but this is our strength. We compensate ourselves and live the challenges together". Among these, in addition to the future trip to Machu Picchu, there is the current one, namely the transfer to New York, where Iannuzzi's wife works on an important research project.

Although the interview took place at a distance - it was enough to calculate the time zone: me in a spring afternoon in Milan, he in the morning in New York - his stay in the "Big Apple"Is temporary. He will soon return to Rome to the General Staff of the Defense and will continue to take care of the GSPD, also in view of the upcoming commitments. "There are so many European and world competitions, but the goal must be Tokyo 2020. The boys are preparing for the September appointment with the Invictus Games in Toronto. There will be the hard core of the veterans, but the intention is to have a good component of new boys and one of people we think can do well the Invictus experience to get ahead in the rehabilitation and recovery path".

Progress has been made by the GSPD, the attention of the political and military summit is high, but there is still a long way to go. Among the future objectives is to expand team sports, also considering the growing number of members and giving more and more media coverage to events like the Invictus Games: "the atmosphere in the Anglo-Saxon countries is very different from the Italian one. There, people thank those who serve their country. In Italy this perception is still far away, despite the concept of Armed Forces evolved. I would like Italian television to give space, as it did for the Paralympics, to this event, for the message of high value that it transmits".

And on his participation in Toronto, Iannuzzi himself says: "I don't know if I'll be there. We have a limited number of people we can bring to us from the Invictus Games organization. If my participation were to take up space for someone else I would prefer not to go, but I leave the choice to the managerial side. What is certain is that I would like to be there because it is a wonderful experience to live". Whether in rowing or swimming, at work or in personal life, on trips or in dreams, the hope is that Lieutenant Colonel Iannuzzi can always make the best of his challenges, as he did from his own life.