Author: Massimo Tosatto

Alejandro Valverde’s long love story with the World Cycling Championship has finally come to an end, at the last chance, in one of the hardest World Championships ever run. The Innsbruck track appeared immediately to all the cyclists as a branch of “hell”, the nickname of the terrible uphill through which the last lap passed. In truth, it was the Purgatory mountain that leads to paradise after all the sins have been expiated. And these cyclists must be full of sins, if they had to climb an almost vertical route after 250 kilometres of an already hard competition. A 28%…

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The 2018 European Athletics Championships brought to light some family history worth telling. In a sports in which money does not abound, having a coach at home helps young athletes to lower the cost of training and maximise the yield from having somebody that strongly believes in you. But in this championship, two distinct groups of brothers excelled in the same disciplines: the Borlee in the 400 meters, and the Ingebritsen in the longer distances, from 1500 to 10.000. Indeed, this is not a novelty, both groups of brothers’ elders have been competing for years at the highest level. Henrik…

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This is a tale of friendship and honor, of tragedy and memory. It involves two storied teams and their best captains, two young men who understood each other at their first glimpse, and felt they were made of the same material, the one of great players. Francisco Ferreira captained Benfica in the 40s. originally a player of Porto, a contract dispute cut short his stint with the white and blue, allowing his passage to Benfica. For more than a decade, “Chico” Ferreira led the team with his tactical savvy. A strong midfielder, a fighter, with good feet and a tactical…

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Vamos para longe, e a luz que vem grande, vem menos grande. Fernando Pessoa All things Portuguese own a special blend. At the far West of Europe, Portugal is a special place, an unlikely part of Iberia, never united to Spain and never subject to annexing wars. Like estranged relatives, Spanish and Portuguese stand shoulder-to-shoulder, each staring at different horizons. The Portuguese are not a product of Europe. They are a product of the sea. Travelers for necessity, the necessity to escape a narrow piece of land between the mountain and the Atlantic, the Portuguese turn their face westward, whereas…

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In the 80s, Fernando Martin was the first Spanish talent of the decade. A legendary player whose life was cut short by a fatal accident. His memory came to me while I was thinking about which players of the old times were ahead of his time, and Fernando certainly was. But he was more. We did not forget you, Fernando Martin. Your class, your technique, the charisma on court, passed away too early on that cursed curve of the M30, while you were going to watch a game of your Real Madrid you wouldn’t have played, for an injury. If…

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Never, in the history of the game, a coach showed such an intellectual dominance on the game, that he meets in the F4 only coaches he coached when they were players, or his former assistant. Such is the strength and the reputation Zelimir Obradovic has built in the years, that the men who led his teams become automatically great coaches. Well, not automatically, ok, but the probability to find other former players of his in the same F4 is so low, that anyway his influence on their development HAS to be taken into consideration. Zeljko became a coach in his…

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Basketball changed so much in the last two decades, and the evolution of the role of center reflects this more than any other position on court. Once considered the centerpiece of the team, the main scorer and the one who should receive the ball near the basket to easily score, the center evolved in a dynamic player, who has to pick screens for his teammates and has to cover a much wider space in defense than he used to. This made life difficult for the descendants of the Tckachenkos and the Crumjins monolithic, Stonehenge-like players who made room with their…

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Sarunas walks nervously along the sideline. His eyes injected of fire. He’s always been like that. As a playmaker, one of the best of his generation, Sarunas Jasikevicious always let you know what he felt. And not all the point guards are like that. Take Spanoulis for instance. His longtime friend and opponent, with whom he played in an amazing Panathinaikos, always has the same expression. His face owns a Buster Keaton-like steadiness that never lets you understand what he wants to do. Saras, instead, is vocal. He screams, gives indications. Like his great masters Pini Gershon and Zeljko Obradovic,…

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Beograd hosts the 2018 Euroleague Final 4, which will not display any local team. But there was a time in which Partizan won the Euroleague itself, a story of a long time ago, when on the court the Serbians could feel some joy in a disparaging war. Despite the domination in terms of creating players and basketball, former Yugoslavia teams won much less than one would expect in European competition. The first Euroleague victory came in 1979, from Bosna Sarajevo, after the national team had been winning for more than a decade. The last one, in 1992, from Partizan Belgrade,…

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Peter Sagan’s first victory at the Roubaix will forever be affected by Micheal Goolaert’s heart, which stopped beating about 120 km before the arrival. Goolaert’s body lay near the bicycle on the left side of the street. The cyclists passed by thinking he fell, like many others. His composure probably depended on the pain he felt from some cracked bone, they surely thought. In this sport, you get so used to pain and to falling, that you don’t think about your or someone else’s body. Instead, Micheal had been hit by a heartache, a rare event even in a sport…

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