I for Italy, i for impegno (commitment).
I don't know any other word that expresses better than commitment what we Italians have to value above all.
In my own international sports competitions, and those of all the other athletes, but more in general in all the tests in which we have to measure ourselves, as a country, as a people.
We have seen it in the success of our European policy in dealing with the crisis and in the immense effort of the people of Emilia, struggling to recover after the earthquake.
We will see it at the upcoming Olympics in London, where a relatively small country will succeed in placing among the top ten in the world.
I know I have received the gift of a great talent for swimming. I've won a lot and I want to keep on winning.
But the best way I have to thank my parents, God and my good luck that have given me this gift is to train my talent.
That's where the commitment comes in. Hours and hours, days and days, months and months always up and down. People often ask me: «Isn't it an awfully boring way to live?».
Well, yes, it may be boring, but it's the commitment that we have to have for a race you're going to swim every two years for the world championships or every four years for the Olympics.
That is my way to feel Italian: by expressing all my will to win (and to bring victory to my country) through hard work, all the time, out of sight. Doing work I love and feel is right for me.
That's the way it is for me, and that's the way it is for a lot of Italians, who often work even harder than me. They are my compatriots and I love and respect them all.