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Concetta Bonaldi Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Mamma Maria

Running, skiing, cycling... Maria Canins always on the move and notwithstanding the effort involved she is never tired.. her home mountains are still today like a gym for her and she proudly shows them off to the persons she cycles with or whom she teaches to ski.
Mamma Maria
‘She has always approached everything in a very simple straightforward manner and she continues to do so today. I have never seen her cry after being defeated nor after a painful fall.’
I started infant school in 1984 and that was the year in which Mamma nearly went to two Olympics in the same year - to Sarajevo for cross-country and Los Angeles for cycling. In fact she went to Los Angeles but the selectors ‘bottled it’ and did not pick her for Sarajevo even though as one of the best Italians available for selection she would surely have won a medal. A pity as she would have been one of the few athletes in the world to have taken part in two Olympics in the same year. That said Mamma has no real need of such acknowledgement to show that she is special. Whoever has seen her competing in a bike race and break away uphill knows what I am talking about. Great effort has never frightened her in any circumstance, be it when she ran or skied or when she went like a train on her bike! I remember the times that I was in the team car following the race and when she decided to sprint ahead that was the race over as nobody could get near her, and yet she still pushed on hard to the finishing line.
She has always approached everything in a very simple straightforward manner and she continues to do so today. I have never seen her cry after being defeated nor after a painful fall. She has taught me that losing is sometimes part of the game and that at times the most unthinkable of things are easier to achieve than the simple things. Over the years we visited many places together and when for one reason or another I was not able to go and I did not know about the place she was going I was always quick to look it up on my small sized world map – I liked this smaller version as it made the distances seem shorter too! I liked the travelling part of things for we often went to places a lot warmer than Alta Badia and I was able to put on my shorts!
Of the races I remember the crowds that supported her and admired her and looked upon her as a really very special athlete. Young ones and adults alike would flock around her seeking out her autograph or even a photo together and they just loved being close to her. The thing I noticed was that she always remained herself, simple and with a great sense of humility, as if she did not really understand what all the fuss was about, the magnificence of her achievements, and the effect she had on people. Often after a race it was difficult to get close to her quickly and I had to push my way among the crowds, but my moment of triumph always came as she would lift me up high on the podium and I would dedicate a stare or two to those who had not let me pass by!
Those times when she did not take me with her I often got up to mischief. Once while she was away winning the Tour de France, I took it upon myself to run away from Sanremo, where I was on holiday with my auntie, and take the train to the Principality of Monaco to see the Prince himself! When she got back from her Parisian triumph I had to tell her of my misdeed and how I had finished in a police station in the town of Ventimiglia and that auntie had had to come and pick me up. However I still managed to get to Monaco without train or document – and I took auntie along with me!
I think that the greatest thing that she has taught me is that life can often be magical and that when you really believe in and want something you can get it, even if there may be significant obstacles and challenges along the way, but you need to show consistency, effort and know that you may occasionally fall along the way.

Concetta Bonaldi

Maria Canins on Wikipedia
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