Home Olympics The Italian teen Alessandro Boloventa followed within the footsteps of his father...

The Italian teen Alessandro Boloventa followed within the footsteps of his father Vigor

The Italian youngster Alessandro Boloventa followed in the footsteps of his father Vigor

Name Bovolent for Italian volleyball fans, it evokes feelings of joy, reverence and sadness.

Bowolent vigor was a center blocker for the Azzurri’s best men’s team – known as “la Generazione di Fenomeni” – and won Olympic silver in Atlanta 1996.

In March 2012, four years after the end of his international career, Bovolenta died of cardiac arrest caused by severe coronary disease during an Italian fourth division match. He was only 37 years old.

His widow Federica Lisiwho also played volleyball for Italy, discovered she was pregnant with her fifth child two weeks after her husband died.

Alexander Bovolenttheir firstborn, was then seven years old.

While his early sporting ambitions were in football as a goalkeeper, young Alessandro soon switched to the sport his parents excelled at.

Now 18 years old, he is mature beyond his years and already looks doomed to follow his father to the top.

Born in Rome but raised in Ravenna – a small town near Bologna – the teenager was named MVP as Italy won the September U20 European Championship on native land.

This success came a few months after the 2.05m opponent made his debut in the Italian Superlegi Ravenna Porto Robur Costa – the club where his father was initially very successful.

Alessandro Bovolenta: from goalkeeper to volleyball prodigy

Bowolent vigor played in Italy from 1995 to 2008winning four World League titles, two European titles, one World Cup and an Olympic silver medal.

He also won 1991 Club World Cup with Ravenna Porto and three consecutive European Champions League crowns (1992-94).

Lisi ended her career to give birth to Alessandro, but he claims it was he was never forced to follow his parents to volleyball.

Alessandro told Olympics.com: “Zero pressure. Mom always told us, “Do what you want.” So it’s always been freedom. If there were any “duties” she would tell me “Listen, at least do something, play sports”, but then I did it anyway.

Alessandro Bovolenta at the age of 16 in the shirt of the Italian national team
Alessandro Bovolenta at the age of 16 in the shirt of the Italian national team (Archives staffles Alessandro Bovolenta)

“When I was younger, I wasn’t that interested in volleyball. I wasn’t interested in it. I used to follow my friends from school who played football**.** I started with defense, then tried as a goalkeeper and I was doing well. I was 11 years old. I felt very cold…during training,” Bovolenta told us.

“As a goalkeeper you get a shot every 10 minutes. In winter you have to stand in the cold and then you come home and you’re freezing. Friends are fine… but then I chose a different path.

“Suddenly I grew tall and said, ‘Let’s try to play volleyball.’ And it went well. I still have fun, in training, in the game, I get along well with my teammates, so that’s good.

Alessandro Bovolenta: Volleyball in his DNA

Since then, the rest of the children have followed the same path Arianna (13), twins Northern lights and Angelica (11) and Andrea (10) everyone is playing volleyball now.

Arianna recently moved to Rome to play with Volleyrò Casal de Pazzi B.

Alessandro even joked about his siblings: “When they get a little older, the match will start!”

Alessandro Bovolenta's family
Alessandro Bovolenta’s family (Archives staffles Alessandro Bovolenta)

Regarding his father’s death, he said it “has brought our family together so much more.”

“My mother had extra responsibilities that she didn’t transfer to me because I was a child, even though I was the eldest. We were all one and always together.”

these days The Bovolentas prove to be strong watch Alessandro play with his mother looking approvingly.

“He’s having fun, giving me advice… Mamma Mia! She’s there, she’s very involved…she likes that too. Yes, yes, you see her there in the stands, in the corner… like an eagle watching from above!”

While he’s only seen limited video footage of his parents in action, he says he sees a similarity in the way they play.

“In our movements we are very similar … between mum and dad we are practically identical!”

Success with the Italy U20 national team

Vigor’s trainer in Atlanta 1996, Julio Velascocurrently helping to shape Alessandro’s career as youth technical director of the Italian Volleyball Federation.

It’s something of a purple patch for Italy with at least 10 tournament wins in the 2021/22 season across all age groups, including Paolo Egon leading the women to Nations League glory, and their men’s team winning their fourth FIVB World Championship title and first in 24 years.

The men’s U18 and U22 team won European titles, as did the women’s at U18, U20 and U22 levels. Therefore, it was up to Alessandro Bovolenta and company to secure a full set of European junior crowns on home soil.

He recalls: “Velasco told us not to feel pressure because we were at home. However, the pressure was obviously there because we all knew we were the last rivals of the ‘Azzurri’ because we played the final on September 25. After us, only the women’s world championships remain.

“But as the coach of our national team Matteo Battocchio says, “Pressure is for privileged people.”

This pressure reached its maximum in the dramatic finale against Poland.

Italy led 2:0, but the Poles quickly returned to the decisive set, in which the hosts won 15:6.

It was a great triumph for the team, although Bovolenta – who won the MVP award – was in the game not fit to join the celebration.

He said: “I felt very bad physically. I managed to control the tension during the match, but left the celebration early. I went back to the hotel, went to bed and woke up in the morning… still in my shoes and tracksuit with my medal around my neck!

“It took me a week to recover. I even had to postpone my preparations for the season at my club Ravenna.”

Idols, Goals and the Olympic Games

Bovolenta says the volleyball player he admires is a Dutch star Nimir Abdel-Azizwhile his idols in other sports are soccer players Cristiano Ronaldo and basketball hero Michael Jordan.

He says: “Ronaldo is the first one I take as an example because he has a mentality that goes beyond sport.”

In terms of immediate goals, Bovolenta says they intend to establish themselves in the Superliga, although it may take some time as Ravenna Porto currently play in Italy’s second tier after being relegated last season.

He has no plans to move abroad yet, thinking: “I feel good in Italy. The top league is here so if there is a chance to stay it will definitely be my first choice. My goal is definitely to go to SuperLega and stay there. As my grandfather always says, “it’s one thing to get there and another to stay.” I like this sentence very much.

“When I made my Superliga debut, it was a bit of an accident. So staying there and proving yourself is a little more complicated. That’s the number one goal, and then there’s the senior national team and the Olympics.”

Alessandro Bovolenta in action during the U20 European Volleyball Championship 2022
Alessandro Bovolenta in action during the U20 European Volleyball Championship 2022 (Federica Rossini)

Paris 2024 it may come a little early for the teenager who expects it Poland and hosts France be among the favorites for gold.

The family, of course, already has an Olympic medal, although he did not see it until six years ago.

“We watched the Rio 2016 Gry and me and my mom went looking for dad’s medal. When we found it… I thought it was so beautiful! A few days later, my paternal grandparents returned home. We showed them and they also gave us all of dad’s medals. In the end, they kept some of them and we kept two: the CEV cup and the Olympic silver.

“Now we keep the Olympic medal together with the gold I won last summer. Is beautiful. An Olympic medal weighs quite a lot! But seeing it up close is twice as impressive as it is beautifully crafted.

“You can definitely feel the emotion behind it. Italy lost the final by two points and it hurts. But this medal is important… only a few are lucky enough to have an Olympic medal at home.”

Perhaps he will be able to enrich the family collection of medals in the coming years.

Bovolenta family medals: Vigor Bovolenta Olympic silver medal (Atlanta 1996) and his son Alessandro U-20 and AOF gold medal.
Bovolenta family medals: Vigor Bovolenta Olympic silver medal (Atlanta 1996) and his son Alessandro U-20 and AOF gold medal. (Alessandro Bovolenta Private Archive)
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