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After Italian short track speed skater Arianna Fontana collected her second Olympic medal Monday in Beijing — and 10th of her career — she pumped her fists and yelled with emotion.
It was an uncharacteristic celebration for Fontana, who said the screams were her way of releasing “anger” over a lack of support from her native country, Italy.
“We had people that didn’t want me here. My federation wasn’t really supportive with me having my husband as a coach,” Fontana told reporters after winning gold in the 500 meters, defeating the reigning world champion Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands.
Fontana celebrated the win by skating over to her husband, Anthony Lobello Jr. for a kiss, which some may argue was a stiff arm to her country.
Italian skating officials apparently took issue with Fontana’s American husband, a former U.S. short track skater, being her coach. The situation has been brewing since the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, Fontana said, when she won her first 500m gold.
Fontana and her husband left Italy for Hungary, but returned late last year to train with the Italian team.
“When I crossed the line — all that yelling — I don’t usually yell, it was just a way to let it out, all that anger,” she said. “Me and my family had to go through a bad situation, people that didn’t want me here. They didn’t want me having my husband as coach, but today we proved he was the best possible coach. They didn’t help. In fact, they tried to find ways that we wouldn’t be here at all. It was tough.
“Today we proved that he’s an amazing coach. It was my best choice, my best decision to have him on my side.”
After Fontana won gold in the 500 meters — tying her with Stefania Belmondo as the most decorated Italian female Olympian in history — she claimed she didn’t receive a warm welcome from some Italian officials in Beijing.
“I saw a couple of (Federation officials) in the hallway — they didn’t even come up and say congratulations,” Fontana said. “I wasn’t looking for them to come up to me. It’s actually better if they stay away.”
Last Saturday, Fontana won silver in the inaugural mixed team relay.
When asked if she would try for a third gold medal in the 500 meters, Fontana said, “If things are not going to change, I’m not going through this again.”
Fontana, 31, has now collected four medals in the 500m, including bronze (2010), silver (2014), and gold (2018, 2022).