Iliass Aouani sees more than just racist slurs on social media

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The words of Iliass Aouani

History and the future, an Olympic champion and a new Italian record holder. In this week’s episode of Athletics TV talk, Athens 2004 marathon gold medalist Stefano Baldini and fresh 42.195-kilometer record-holder Iliass Aouani confront each other, three days after his framing performance in Barcelona (2h07:16) with which he surpassed Faniel’s national limit by three seconds. Aouani himself devoutly addresses Baldini: “He has been a source of inspiration for me, an idol who accompanied me as a kid and led me to push my limits. Reviewing the images of the Olympic feat, I can’t even imagine the emotions of that last lap: everyone dreams of experiencing them, and only one in every four years has the privilege of experiencing them, but that doesn’t mean I won’t put my heart and soul into it.” The Athens hero encourages him: “I put myself in Iliass’s shoes and I know that for 15 months, from here to Paris, at least once a day the thought will go to the Olympics. Aouani is one of those who is not afraid to run to win; he is one of the cases where moving for a period of study and competition to the United States leads to a change of mentality. Meeting Massimo Magnani in Ferrara was the viaticum of a path that has led him to this record for now.”

A record that Baldini held for 14 years (2h07:22), from 2006 to 2020. And which is now owned by the Milanese member of the Fiamme Azzurre, 27 years old, two engineering degrees from the States, a guy of intelligence and sensitivity out of the norm, far superior to the ignorance of those who insult on the web and question his being Italian. Some comments in recent days have hurt like blades, but Aouani knows how to retort with class and maturity: “I don’t agree with those who say Italy is a racist country. It is wrong to think so, and it would be an injustice to be ungrateful to the country that welcomed me twenty-six years ago, opening its doors to me indiscriminately. Every day I am surrounded by affection. However, I am keen to spread some awareness toward certain issues.”

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