The Italian Almanac

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Enrico Fabris

Italian Sport - February 23

Enrico Fabris' Winter Games are not over yet, but the 24-year-old speed skater is already being hailed as Italy's hero of the Turin Winter Olympics, following his triumph in the 1,500m event. It was his third medal of the Games and his second gold - Fabris also led the Azzurri to the top of the podium in the team pursuit and took bronze in the 5,000m.

The speed skater was congratulated by Premier Silvio Berlusconi and President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, as well as by fans, family, friends and fellow athletes. The three-medal haul makes Fabris the Azzurri man to have won most at a single edition of the Winter Games - only an Italian woman, cross-country skier Manuela Di Centa, has done better, with two golds, two silvers and a bronze at Lillehammer 1994.

Fabris' success has come as something of a surprise as Italy had never won a long-track speed skating medal before Turin and the sport has a much smaller following here than in countries like Norway, the Netherlands and the USA. The skater said he was inspired by Italy's hero at the last Summer Olympics in Athens in 2004, marathon gold medallist Stefano Baldini.

Turin is Fabris' second Olympic adventure. He came 16th in the 5,000m and 26th in the 1,500m at Salt Lake City four years ago. The guitar-playing rock lover from Roana, in the northern Italian province of Vicenza, started skating at the age of six and came to speed skating via short track.