The Italian Almanac

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Andrew Howe

Italian Sport - August 10

New European long jump champion Andrew Howe has played down his American roots and insists he is "more Italian" than many people born in the Bel Paese. The 21-year-old, who gave Italy its first ever male long-jump gold medal at a major championship in Gothenburg on Tuesday, was born in Los Angeles and is frequently described as an American-Italian in the media.

But the Italian Air Force officer has lived in the town of Rieti, near Rome, since he was five and has no doubts where his loyalties lie. "I prefer our country a thousand times to the US," he said. "Every time I go there I feel like a foreigner, almost a tourist. And then I come back to Rieti and I feel at home".

Congratulations have poured in for the handsome, black athlete from Italian Sports Minister Giovanna Melandri, Defence Minister Arturo Parisi and Lazio Regional Government Chief Piero Marrazzo. Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni told Howe his achievement made him "officially part of the great history of Italian sport" in a telegram.

Despite dominating the long jump competition in Gothenburg, Howe said he is not fully satisfied. "I'm happy, but the season has not finished yet because I know I can beat the Italian record," Howe said. "This gold medal is of great value and I'll try to win another next year at the World Championships in Osaka, which is even more important. But I hope to break the Italian record before then".