What made Stefania Belmondo stand out was not just her endurance on the course, but her consistently outstanding performance over a long period of time. She competed in five Olympic Games, winning two golds, three silver and five bronze medals
Belmondo was a hero back in Italy. Half of her home village of Pontebernardo (population 160) travelled to France to support her in the 1992 Albertville Olympic Winter Games. She finished fifth, fourth, second then third. Then in the final women's cross-country event, the 30km, she struck gold.
She made a return from serious injury at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games. Two bronze medals were, by her standards, a disappointment, and since she was not expected to compete for major honours anymore, she was advised to retire. This caused Belmondo to take a three-year break from the sport.
Typically for Belmondo, she refused to give up and stormed back to the top by winning two golds at the 1999 World Championships. Then, 10 years after winning her first gold, she said farewell at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games with gold in the 15km event.