Dante Cittadini, youth sailing world champion in the Nacra 15 event, will carry the Argentinian flag at the first Opening Ceremony in the history of the Olympic Movement to be held outside a stadium and open to the public.
Born in San Pedro, a town in Buenos Aires province, 17-year-old Dante Cittadini won a vote and was announced as the flag bearer for the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018. “It came as a big surprise to me. A few weeks ago, my coach called me to tell me that he had nominated me as a candidate and that we won the election with 14 votes,” Cittadini said. “I was coming back from a training session when I found out. I called my family to tell them about it and, a few minutes later, it was all over the social networks.”
Cittadini started sailing in the Optimist class at San Pedro’s Nautical Club when he was just five years old. His coaches soon noticed his navigational skills and their predictions were confirmed when he started getting good results at his first international competitions. “I started competing alongside my brother, who is two years older than me. I was a little kid when I started,” said the young athlete, whose skills on the boat grew from year to year.
After winning the Optimist South American Championship twice and finishing fourth at the 2015 Optimist World Championship in Poland, Cittadini moved up to the 29er Class. It was only last year when he was selected to be part of the Nacra 15 team that would attempt to qualify to the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. He competed there with Teresa Romairone and the pair reached fourth place at the 2018 world championship held in Barcelona, which gave them a ticket to represent Argentina in that discipline at Buenos Aires 2018.
"At the end of February, Teresa and I started training every day of the week. With those extra hours, we could improve our performance and move high up in the competitions. We’re having a great run this year and hopefully we’ll continue like that,” Cittadini said.
The Cittadini-Romairone duo is one of the favourites to get a podium finish in the Nacra 15 event at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. In July, the pair finished first in the Nacra 15 race at the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships held in the United States. The following month, Cittadini and Romairone went to Italy to continue their preparation for Buenos Aires 2018. There they competed in the European championship on Lake Como and topped the field that included other pairs from the continent who will compete with them at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
When searching for motivation, Cittadini looks to his role model, fellow Argentine sailor Santiago Lange, who overcame lung cancer and became an Olympic champion. “Santiago Lange is my idol,” Cittadini said. “I get so much energy when I see him. It’s very helpful to learn from someone who has been in the sports world for so many years. You can learn so much from him.”
Just as at Singapore 2010 with Braian Toledo, gold medallist in javelin throw at the first summer edition of the Youth Olympic Games and later an Olympic finalist at Rio 2016, as well as golfer Sofia Goicoechea, who represented Argentina at Nanjing 2014, it will soon be Dante Cittadini’s turn to wave the national flag during one of the most unique Opening Ceremonies in the history of the Olympic Movement.