Long Ago in Spoleto | In June, 1948 the Racewalkers Team for the London Olympics is decided at the Giro della Rocca

June, 1948: the Italian Racewalking Team for the 1948 London Olympic Games decided at the Giro della Rocca

20 June, 1948. The Giro della Rocca becomes the stage of a sporting event of fierce competitive tension: the Italian Athletics Federation chooses Spoleto, already home to important competitions organized by the Unione Sportiva Spoletina, for a special pre-Olympic race.

It is an actual selection, to identify the third and last athlete to be included in the Italian Racewalking team at the XIV Olympics Games. The winner of the race in Spoleto will then be the last athlete to go to London.

A pre-Olympic race had already been held in Turin one month before, a dramatic race, full of accidents and injuries, that gave the first two names of the Italian trio of racewalkers bound to London: Valentino Bertolini and Francesco Pretti, the latter being the Italian recordman in the specialty.

But the federation, knowing that for the third, last place, important names or great promises such as Salvatore Cascino, Cosimo Puttilli and Giuseppe Kressevich were left out of the podium in Turin, decided to quickly organize a new selection race in Spoleto.

In the three photos kept at the Carducci Library photographic archives at Palazzo Mauri, the captions help us identify athletes number 73 and 74, respectively Cascino and Kressevich [mistakenly referred to as Cresevick] who, according to the data available in the FIDAL portal, would rank first and second place in Spoleto. The Spoleto victory allowed Salvatore Cascino to be the third Italian racewalker at the London Games. Cascino would be the only one of the Italian trio to finish the Olympic competition – ranking 14th – and in the following years he would confirm himself thanks to the victory of the Italian title in 1951 and a second Olympic participation in the XV Olympics in Helsinki.

On that day, Spoleto could witness the best of the Italian Racewalking, but as Carlo Alberto Berioli reminds us in the “Cronache di Vita Cittadina”, many were the athletes from Spoleto who managed to reach the spotlight at regional and national level from 1910 to 1969. To name but a few, Amedeo De Angelis, Angelo Maiocchi, Mario Zanelli, Rodigero Minci, Luciano Federici, Feliciano Giorgetti, and Giuseppe Vannozzi.

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