The athlete from Messina, who lost his father when she was only 12, will represent Italy at the Tokyo Paralympics at the end of August.
Messina will also be present at the Tokyo Paralympics, which will take place from 24 August to 5 September. For the young athlete, judo is not just a simple sport: her reason for living and what is most beautiful and precious. Carolina is, in fact, the daughter of former Olympic wrestler Katarzyna Juszczak and judo master Franco Costa, who passed away when she was only 12 years old. “My father was my pillar – she says the blue – and losing him so soon made me great ahead of time. It was a bad blow, and at that moment, only judo was able to give me the strength to go on and never give up, as he had taught me ».
A life lesson that Carolina also treasured after her, when unfortunately she, at the age of 22, discovered that she was suffering from keratoconus, a degenerative disease of the cornea, which made her visually impaired. «I remember that I realized I had some visual discomfort while I was participating in the Absolute Championships – explains the Messina -, so I did some exams, and unfortunately, the diagnosis did not leave much hope. I stopped for a year, undergoing various operations. Still, there was nothing to be done ». The girl was afraid of being forced to abandon the beloved sport, which she had started practicing since she was very young, taking her first steps on the mat. «I was afraid – confesses the twenty-seven year old – of having to let go of the dream of participating in the Olympics. But then, by chance, I discovered that Paralympic judo existed and that news marked my rebirth ».
So once again, it was judo that saved her: “After having obtained the eligibility and enrolled in Fispic (the Italian Paralympic Sports Federation for the visually impaired and the blind) – continues Carolina -, in 2018 I played the first important competition: World Championships in Lisbon, where I finished third, winning the bronze medal ». That competition allowed her to regain self-confidence, reaching many milestones, such as the gold medal at the IBSA European Championships in 2019, the Grand Prix in Azerbaijan, and the Ibsa Grand Prix in Warwick. The challenges that have made her conquer the scores for the qualification for Tokyo and have made her ahead of her in the world ranking. Her feelings related to the next Paralympics are a mixture of emotion and fear: “I still don’t realize that you will represent Italy in Tokyo – reveals the young woman -. I will meet opponents that I have already faced; the most difficult challenge will be reconfirming myself. What worries me most, however, is the situation linked to the pandemic ».
Carolina wants to feel the warmth of her Messina. In this place, she chose to stay by opening a gym where she teaches judo to the little ones: “If I were to win the medal, I would dedicate it to the people of Messina, to my loved ones and above all to my dad, who I know who would be very proud of me. “And it is he, the “special” fan, who will support her at the Olympics from up there.
This is an article from Gazzetta del Sud (https://messina.gazzettadelsud.it/articoli/sport/2021/08/01/carolina-la-judoka-che-lassu-ha-un-tifoso-speciale-cc002a26-2033-4b48-b7d5-dcbbd8430c70/).