Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018
ROME

Olympic gold medallist Idem strengthens cabinet

English
© ANSA

(By Kate Carlisle)
Rome, April 30 - Newly appointed minister for
equal opportunities and sport, Josefa Idem, will be the first
Olympian to be part of an Italian cabinet.
She was sworn into Premier Enrico Letta's fledgling
administration on Saturday as part of a relatively young team of
ministers that includes seven women comprising one-third of the
cabinet.
It is not the first time that the German-born, Italian
adopted retired athlete has proved an exception.
The mother of two has, during the course of her
three-decade career, won 38 medals in European, world and
Olympic competitions.
In total, Idem has a tally of five Olympic medals,
including the gold she won in Sydney in 2000.
In 2003 she sent a strong message to women athletes when
she gave birth to her second child and then returned to compete
in at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, winning the silver medal in
the K 1,500 m.
She was also the oldest contender in her discipline, at age
47, taking part at what was her eighth Olympic competition, the
2012 London Games.
Alas, she only won fifth in the final, but the unflappable
Idem told Sky Television that she was "sorry because this was my
last race, but I'm also happy because I came so close to the
podium".
Before switching to race for her adopted homeland Italy,
she competed at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics for West Germany.
In part, Idem has the end of the Cold War to thank for her
switch of allegiance to Italy. That and her husband-coach
Guglielmo Guerrini, whom she married in 1990.
Her initial intention after moving to Italy to be with
Guerrini in 1988 was to continue competing for Germany.
But the fall of the Berlin Wall and the availability of
athletes from East Germany meant the national team's coaches
were unwilling to accommodate the needs of someone living
outside the country.
"I never felt like I had to pick allegiances, choose sides
or call myself 'Italian or German'. It is like saying I love my
mother more than my father," Idem said at a conference in her
home region of Romagna before leaving the 2004 Olympic Games.
Even before her competitive athletic career came to an
end, Idem dovetailed her sports experience with politically
savvy.
From 2001 to 2007 she served as Ravenna city councillor
delegate for sports, as member of the centre-left Olive Tree
alliance.
She then became a member of the Democratic Party (PD), and
was tapped as a parliamentary candidate for the Senate after
winning the party's 2012 primary elections.
In a 2012 New York Times interview, she said that if she
did turn her attention to politics, "it would be to benefit
women".
As in the world of sports where women athletes often face
greater challenges and receive fewer rewards than their male
counterparts, Italian political posts have historically been
sparsely occupied by women.
Idem's appointment to Letta's administration makes not
only one, but two naturalized Italian women (the other being the
first black MP, Congolese-born Integration Minister Cecile
Kyenge) to have been given roles important for policy making in
a time that the country is in need of reform - political,
economic and social.

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