On the first day that medals were handed out in the sport, Italian rower Marco Di Costanzo, who competed in the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Singapore 2010, graduated to the Olympic stage in style by securing a bronze medal in the men’s rowing pair with his team-mate Giovanni Abagnale at Rio 2016. We give the lowdown on the 24-year-old YOG athlete.
1. Born in Naples in 1992, Di Costanzo took up rowing at the age of 10, and represented Italy in the 2009 Junior World Championships. A year later, he took part in the inaugural YOG in Singapore, finishing 10th alongside Bernardo Nannini in the men’s pair.
2. A versatile rower, Di Costanzo has also enjoyed success in the four-man boat, and won a gold medal at the 2015 Rowing World Championships in Aiguebelette (France) as part of Italy’s “Fantastic Four”. The team were awarded the Gold Collar for sporting merit by the Italian Olympic Committee in recognition of their achievement.
3. Di Costanzo only teamed up with Abagnale for the pair in July – just a month ahead of their Olympic debut in Rio – but the duo gelled quickly, finishing second in their heat before winning their semi-final. They were the youngest pair to line up in the six-team final on the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas.
4. In the event, defending Olympic champions Hamish Bond and Eric Murray, of New Zealand, cruised to a 69th consecutive success on the water, leaving the other teams to scrap it out for a place on the podium. South Africa took silver, but Di Costanzo and Abagnale finished strongly to surge away from Great Britain and claim bronze – Italy’s first medal in the event since 1948.
5. In winning an Olympic medal, Di Costanzo was fulfilling a lifelong ambition. “I’m very happy,” he said after the race. “It’s my first Olympic Games. When I was small, I dreamed about this.”6. When he’s not rowing around the Gulf of Naples or competing at international competitions, Di Costanzo works as a police officer, while he enjoys fishing and riding a motorcycle in his spare time.