From Olympic champion to athlete representative
Aldo Montano is the youngest Olympic champion in a legendary Italian fencing dynasty that has been battling to Olympic medals since 1936.
The sabre specialist is the third generation of his family to win a fencing medal at the Games, having won individual gold and team silver at Athens 2004, adding further team bronze medals in 2008 and 2012. Aldo’s father, Mario Aldo, took three Olympic medals including sabre team gold in 1972, while his grandfather, Aldo, won sabre team silver medals in 1936 and 1948.
New challenges await the 39-year-old, as Montano was elected President of the Athletes’ Commission of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) in 2017. He will serve a four-year term, meaning Montano will be leading his fellow fencers while competing at Tokyo 2020, should he qualify for a fifth Olympic Games.
Here, ahead of the World Fencing Championships in Wuxi, China, Montano discusses the legacy of his esteemed family, in addition to his new role and how he can help empower his fellow athletes.
Fighting for the athletes
Fencing gave me many things throughout my whole life and, after 40 years, now is the time to give back. I give all of my experience. I will fight for the best of fencing. I will put my emotion and passion on the table, just like in a fencing match.
Short-term goal accomplished
In Tokyo, we will have all medals in all weapons for both individual and team events. In Rio, there was no sabre team event and in London there was no foil team event. Before we had a rotation system, but that has changed and Tokyo will be the best-ever for fencing.
Time for change
I think sponsorship and marketing is the first thing. We are a little bit old style in fencing and we must leave the past. We are in white, we are traditional, we are one of the first sports in the Olympic Games. Yes, of course, this is very good, but we must understand that we must change something. We are too classic, and it is time for some renovation. We are just athletes, but we must find a way to do this working with many commissions.
Expanding fencing globally
We still don’t see fencing [competitions] all around the world. We have a very good president who invests lots of money in our sport, but I think it is not enough. The system in Italy is very good, the system in Ukraine is very good, but we must share better with the rest of the world. Competitions in some countries are organised better than others and we need to improve.
Montano family legacy
My grandfather fell in love with fencing and worked very hard to start our history. He had more heart than my father and I am more like my grandfather – with the same passion and feeling of success. My grandfather began in Berlin in 1936 and again in 1948 after the Second World War. He taught me so much about the history of fencing in Italy and I wanted to become a champion like my grandfather and father too.
I feel I have the same emotion and passion. I feel young, I feel very good. I am the oldest, the boss of the team. It is a good situation and still I like to go to training. The qualifications start next year and at the moment [Italy] are second in the FIE World Cup, just behind Korea. You never know about Olympic medals, but we are very strong.