What an achievement!
The team also received two wins in the Invictus Fly the Flag campaign, plus a whole lot of emotion as the tricolore flag unwound above the podium at the awards ceremony.
The Azzurri dedicated their victories to the Italian Defence, thanking them for the extraordinary possibility that the Games provided to those left wounded after armed combat.
These ex-servicemen and women had re-entered the ranges in a renewed Role of Honour.
At the end of the closing ceremony, multi-medallist lieutenant colonel Marco Iannuzzi of the Aeronautical Military (who won three golds and a bronze in swimming) declared: “I thank the Defence for their commitment and for the attention they have dedicated to those left wounded while undertaking duty.”
“We have not been left behind,” he added.
Iannuzzi concluded the speech by thanking the captain of the team, lieutenant colonel Gianfranco Paglia, Medal for Gallantry, for his ongoing commitment to the GSPD and his role in its creation in 2014.
Paglia was unfortunately unable to attend the Games in Sydney.
Arturo Arcano, Consul General of Sydney, clapped the team on from the grandstands and congratulated them on their successes and the extraordinary representation by Italy in the grand competition, which included more than 550 participants from 18 nations.
The team was continually supported and guided by the Italian Defence, which was represented at the Italian Embassy in Canberra by Colonel Luca Spuntoni.
A massive thank you was also due to him and all the staff there for their support and hospitality.
The Italian Invictus team were treated to events and dinners throughout their stay, with various sectors of the Italo-Australian community embracing the opportunity to maintain a strong connection with their country of origin.
Of the 18 medals brought home by Italy, seven were gold, seven were silver and four were bronze, plus the two prizes in the Fly the Flag comp for best icon and creative idea.
The campaign was launched by the Invictus Foundation and called for the Invictus flag to be displayed in places of interest in athletes’ home countries.
Our athletes competed in the Invictus Games with an enormous sense of spirit, and it is that which encapsulates the true meaning of Invictus, beyond the prizes or medals won.
We have learned never to give up, and to continue living with the greatest optimism possible.
We can all dream, and dreams do come true!
The athletes have taught us this.