We have some Italian news for you, courtesy of our Italian correspondents, Luisa and Giulia.
Firstly, it has been reported that Italy's WAG team captain, Monica Bergamelli, has retired from competitive gymnastics to take up a coaching position at her own club, Brixia (also home to Vanessa Ferrari, Paola Galante, and promising junior Erika Fasana). Apparently, news of Bergamelli's retirement was published in the print edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport a couple of days ago. Sadly, we have not been able to get hold of the newspaper, nor did an online search result in any confirmation of the news. Interestingly, Bergamelli is still listed on the Italian Gymnastics Federation's website as a competitor in the upcoming Serie A team championships (see below), so either the federation is a bit slow on the uptake or the 24-year-old has retired from international gymnastics but will continue to represent her club team in the Serie A. We guess we'll find out soon enough...
Monica Bergamelli: retired? (photo: AFP/Getty Images)
Secondly, rumor has it that Enrico Casella is no longer Italy's WAG technical director. We don't know whether this means Casella has also stepped down as head coach of the national team (they are two separate positions). The Federation's website provides no news either way. We'll keep you posted...
Thirdly, the Italian club championships, collectively known as the Serie A, are about to kick off. Like the German Bundesliga, the Serie A is a series of matches between club teams from all over the country. Most of the competitors are Italian, but clubs are allowed to hire foreigners, and some do. Over the years, several Romanian gymnasts have competed in Italy, including Simona Amânar, Florica Leonida, Sabina Cojocar, and Anamaria Tămîrjan. Dutchwomen Verona van de Leur and Loes Linders and Belgian Aagje Vanwalleghem (who also competes in the German Bundesliga) have also been known to make an appearance in the Serie A. This year, Vanwalleghem and Romanian junior Raluca Haidu will be among the foreign competitors on the women's side, representing Pavia and second-league Ginnic Bologna, respectively, while Bulgarian legend Jordan Jovchev will represent Varese in the men's league. Needless to say, anyone who is anyone in Italian gymnastics will represent his or her club team in the Serie A. All the usual suspects are listed (including Vanessa Ferrari, who is apparently about to make her comeback to competitive gymnastics), except Francesca Benolli, who is reportedly nursing a foot injury, and may or may not be contemplating retirement, depending on which source you believe.
Vanessa Ferrari: soon to make a comeback? (photo: EMPICS)
This year's Serie A competitions will take place on February 14-15 (Pavia), February 28-March 1 (Genova), April 18-19 (CR Emilia), and May 9-10 (Livorno). Our Italian spies have promised to keep us updated on the results.
A full list of Serie A competitors can be found on the Italian Gymnastics Federation's website.