Three golds, and sorry if it’s not over yet. More may come, but in the meantime, what days for Simone Barlaam, world star of Paralympic swimming, testimonial of famous brands, cartoonist, aspiring mechanical engineer. At the Paralympic Swimming World Championships underway in Madeira he can already tell three stories. In the 100 butterfly he beat an Australian (Martin). In the 100m freestyle he won and broke the world record by dropping for the first time in history under 53 seconds (52 “32), despite the loss of a contact lens at the 30m race. In the 400 freestyle he left behind the disappointment of the lost podium at the Paralympics in Japan, setting the new European record. On Saturday there are his 50 freestyle, the specialty for which he holds the Paralympic gold and the world record. Simone Barlaam, 21 years old from Milan, he prefers to talk about feats, performances, times, medals, but his story must be remembered from the beginning, from the first painful days of his life, passing through the precocious resilience that formed the champion.
Three days after the birth, the first operation. Before twelve interventions, an ordeal more than a hospital journey. Simone was born with a deformation of the hip and a congenital hypoplasia of the right femur that prevents the limb from developing like the other. His situation has improved today, walking is facilitated by a prosthesis in his leg, but in the first years the risks are very high. “My thigh bone was as fragile as crystal and with every little misstep it was in danger of fracturing,” he recalled. His father who is passionate about ultramarathons initiates him into triathlon, but the limitations are too many and the swimming pool becomes his natural field. Water is his element. During a lesson in the pool, the only child with disabilities, at a certain point he asks the teacher to switch to competitive: “Here I’m bored”.
Tokyo Paralympics, Luca Pancalli: “From sick to champions: now Bebe Vio’s Italy needs colleges”
by Mattia Chiusano
Self Bebe Vio is the icon not only of the Paralympic movement, but also of the energy poured into a tireless love for life, Simone Barlaam is no exception. For the fourth year of high school he has decided to move to a country where he can grow up and become a swimming champion: Australia. At the Polytechnic she studies mechanical engineering, and unleashes her creativity by drawing comics, she admires Zerocalcare but also Altan. She is the testimonial of EA7 Emporio Armani, but she also participated as an ambassador of the Paralympic world at a Prada conference on sustainability in New York. She is an athlete of the Fiamme Oro and of the Polha Varese, she is a professional in all respects who trains six hours a day and reaches 65 kilometers of laps a week. From the Tokyo Paralympics he returned with 4 medals, one of which is gold in the 50 freestyle. In Paris he wants to write an even richer story.