UniCamillus Medicine and Sport Conference with World Champions

The round table discussion was followed by a friendly meeting between Volandri and Pietrangeli, Italy Davis Cup champions

“Sport for health, health for sport”: this was the theme of the Medicine and Sports Science conference held on Tuesday 12th December, in our brand-new UniCamillus theatre in Rome.

The importance of medicine in the organisation of athletes’ training was discussed, as well as the importance of physical activity in maintaining what medicine protects ‒ health. All this in a round table discussion with professional doctors and world champions in various sports.

“The best baptism for this brand-new theatre is an event with such extraordinary guests”, said Gianni Profita, UniCamillus Rector, commenting on the fact that this was the first conference to be held in the new University building.

Doing sport to feel good. Feeling good by doing sport.

Cosimo Tudisco, Professor of Locomotive System Diseases at UniCamillus, confirmed the importance of a scientific approach to physical activity: “Fortunately, sport has become a science. The science of sport has two purposes: to prevent injuries and to treat them. Today, medical science can deal with the vast majority of common musculoskeletal problems”.

But medicine is not the only thing that helps sport: Beniamino Quintieri, president of Istituto per il Credito Sportivo, also emphasised the interchangeability of the process. “WHO and OECD data confirms that regular physical activity helps reduce the number of deaths from non-communicable diseases”, he said, referring to the significant economic savings that would accrue to the national health system, amounting to 1 billion and 300 million euros over the next twenty years.

Sport for prevention, but also for treatment: Maria Chiara Vulpiani, Health Director of the Istituto di Medicina dello Sport, spoke about research into how controlled physical activity can support recovery from chemotherapy and reduce side effects in oncology patients.

The Scientific Director of the conference, Donatella Padua, lecturer in Sociology and delegate for the University’s Third Mission, confirmed the effectiveness of sport in defining not only physical health but also mental health: “Sport teaches how to live in the modern world since it develops skills that cannot be learnt through any form of teaching: enthusiasm, sociability, method, control of your own emotions and openness to people from other cultures”.

What makes a performance great ‒ The champions have their say.

At this point in the event, a lively round table discussion took place with the following participants: Zibi Boniek, former footballer and current UEFA vice-president; Vittoria Bussi, cyclist and holder of the women’s cycling’s world hour record; Lorenzo Casini, president of the Serie A league; Daniele Masala, world and olympic pentathlon champion and President of the Faculty of Sports Science at the University of Catanzaro “Magna Graecia”.

The debate, moderated by sports commentator Alberto Rimedio, focused on a fundamental question: what makes a performance great?

For Vittoria Bussi, a professional cyclist with a PhD in mathematics from Oxford University, the scientific technique developed thanks to her academic background was crucial: “With my record, I want to prove that the method is more important than the route”.

According to Lorenzo Casini, what is needed is “recovery accompanied by proper training”.

For Boniek, the psychological aspect of each athlete is fundamental: “The difference lies in the athlete’s mind, which must know how to organise, control, concentrate and believe in itself.

For Masala, awareness must not be overlooked: “Those who train must understand the logic of their path in order to reach their goal more easily”. Tudisco agrees: “Athletes must be aware of what they’re doing, so their academic training is also important”.

Davis Cup 1976 vs. 2023 ‒Pietrangeli and Volandri compared

The most intense and entertaining moment was the confrontation between two Italian Davis Cup champions: one in 1976, Nicola Pietrangeli, Italian International Tennis Ambassador and President of “Tennis & Friends – Health and Sport”, represented in the room by Giorgio Meneschincheri; the other in 2023, Filippo Volandri, captain of the Italy team. Between Pietrangeli’s ironic remarks and Volandri’s reserved and friendly smile, the conclusion was reached that, beyond technique, luck and skill, the true strength from which a champion draws nourishment is their team. This concept emphasises the importance of human relationships, both in sport and life.

The need to pursue gender equality was also discussed, with Rector Gianni Profita pointing out that UniCamillus has always been very committed to this cause, and Champion Vittoria Bussi arguing that there is still a lot to be done in the context of competitive sport.

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