The Italian Almanac

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Alessia Filippi

Italian Sport - August 2

Italy is toasting the 19-year-old Roman who has become the nation's first woman ever to strike gold swimming at the European Championships. Alessia Filippi, who comes from one of Rome's roughest districts, smashed the Italian record by almost five seconds in the 400m individual medley to complete her historic endeavour in Budapest on Monday.

Filippi's winning time of 4:35.80 was the fourth fastest registered in the event's history. "Well done Alessia," said Giovanni Petrucci, the head of the Italian Olympic Committee. "It's a result that marks the onset of a new era."

Filippi seemed taken aback at becoming the new darling of Italian sport. "My hair is horrible," was the first thing she said on television. On a TV show the 19-year-old, who is 1.85m tall and weighs 63 kilos, recently said she would like to work as a model.