Italian kiteboarder defies pain for glory

Three days after fracturing her nose in two places in a terrifying accident on the water, Sofia Tomasoni (ITA) claims gold as the sport’s YOG debut concludes in style.

Picture by Buenos Aires 2018

Sofia Tomasoni defied a broken nose, doctors’ orders and the concerns of her parents to complete the comeback victory of the Games as she and the Dominican Republic’s Deury Corniel became the first Youth Olympic kiteboarding champions on Sunday. 

They make them tough in Italy. In the space of just 72 hours Bologna resident Tomasoni went from fearing for her life as she got dragged into a safety jet-ski in whose engine her kite lines had got caught to celebrating wildly on the Rio Plata. “The jet-ski got one of my lines and I got pulled straight into it,” the 16-year-old said, as she recalled Thursday’s accident. “I was very shocked, traumatised. I cried a lot.”

She was also in pain and the Italian team doctors, who treated Tomasoni for the double nose fracture, advised her not to continue competing. Tomasino’s parents, who are in Buenos Aires, knew that was unlikely to happen. “Of course we were so worried,” mother Elena Tomasoni said. “There is no reason to risk her life but we trust Sofia, she is very wise and we knew if she wanted to go, it was right.”

Go she did. The 2018 senior Twin-Tip Racing world champion went back out on the water the following day. “I didn’t have time to be scared,” she said. “I just had to race and never look back.” 

Men’s kiteboard champion Deury Corniel (DOM) is flanked by joint silver medallists Toni Vodisek (SLO, left) and Filipino Christian Tio (Gabriel Heusi for OIS/IOC)

Despite her resilience, however, Tomasoni knew she was not quite 100%. “I took the painkillers but yesterday morning at breakfast I said, ‘OK I am not going to take them anymore.’ They were making me dizzy and less mentally active in the water. So I threw them away. “The week was very hard, but I never gave up, I kept fighting,” Tomasoni said. “Challenges make it even better.”

It proved an inspired move. Tomasoni came through the field in the two semifinals, and in a dramatic final pushed Spain’s Nina Font and French kiter Poema Newland into the joint silver medal position. Germany’s Alina Kornelli, who had won five races in a row leading into the final day, clashed with Newland in the final and agonisingly fell from the podium. 

Men’s favourite Corniel, who had won all but two of his races during the week, was not to be denied in such fashion. The 18-year-old dominated from the claxon as Slovenia’s Toni Vodisek and Christian Tio (PHI) were both awarded silver. “I was so focused,” said Corniel. “I love to race. I put my head down and said, ‘Now is my time.’”


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