The Italian Almanac

Vezzali and Napolitano

Flag Carrier

President Giorgio Napolitano gave Olympic standard-bearer Valentina Vezzali the Italian flag she will carry at the opening ceremony of the Games in London on July 27. Five-time Olympic fencing gold medallist Vezzali, one of Italy's most popular sporting figures, was picked by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) last month.

The 38-year-old is aiming to win her fourth consecutive individual foil title in London. She also has two Olympic golds from team events in her crammed trophy cabinet and six individual world championship titles.

Napolitano said he would attend the opening ceremony. CONI chief Gianni Petrucci said the news of the president's presence "fills us with joy" and vowed that the Olympic team would "make sure Italy cuts a fine figure" at the Games.