A 23-year-old Rome native was one of 289 athletes on the Italian Olympic team.
Like the many young men and women representing Italy, Luca Scribani Rossi, a talented Italian sport shooter, was seeking a medal in the most prestigious sporting event.
Now general manager of Beretta Australia and president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Melbourne (ICCI), Scribani Rossi achieved that goal at his first Olympics, winning bronze in skeet-shooting.
“The path that led me to Los Angeles began when I was a boy and I’d follow my father, who loved hunting, both on his hunts and when training with clay pigeon shooting,” he recounts.
It was the beginning of a sports career which has seen him participate in some of the most important national and international competitions from a young age.
“The minimum age for competing is 16, and from that age onwards I never stopped, not even after the death of my father, who passed away in the same year that I went on my first shooting trip,” the Olympian says.
Scribani Rossi’s talent and self-sacrifice saw him win many titles, starting with the 1981 World Skeet Championships in Argentina.
He was on the triumphant Italian team, despite technically still being a junior.
He acknowledges the commitment made by Sabino Panunzio, the legendary national shooting coach who led Italy’s shooters right through to the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
“Sabino was a strong character and a strict man, but he was very fair and treated all athletes equally,” Scribani Rossi says.
“I owe him a lot; it was he who, as the national coach, prepared us for the Olympics in a way that allowed each of us to perform at our best.
“He was a determined and hard man, who had a tendency to make decisions which were not always popular but always effective.
“For example, our team didn’t stay in the Olympic Village, but in a house rented by the federation.”
In an attempt to maintain the team’s concentration during that tense time, Panunzio sacrificed the unique atmosphere of the Olympic Village, where each day would have been shared with athletes from all over the world and every sport.
Panunzio’s contested decision evidently helped lead the team to victory.
Another controversial choice he made was to rent a campervan, which he would park outside the shooting range so that at the end of every round, the azzurri athletes could relax and not be conditioned by any cheering or the scores of their competitors.
From athlete to head coach
Besides winning bronze in Los Angeles, Scribani Rossi’s sports career was marked by two other Olympic Games: Seoul in 1988 and Barcelona in 1992.
After taking home seventh place at both, Scribani Rossi went on to coach the Italian team, followed by the Australian team for the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
His extensive experience as a shooter gave him a good eye for both the technical and behavioural aspects of shooting.
“There were two sides to my job with the Italian National Olympic Committee; I was technical director but I was also involved with organisational aspects,” he explains.
“I and seven other technical directors had the task of inspecting sites in the Olympic cities, to identify the places most suitable for the national teams to lodge, train and compete.”
When his experience with the Italian team came to an end, Scribani Rossi decided to challenge himself in a new way, leaving Italy with his wife and three kids and moving to Australia.
Upon his arrival, he coached the Australian clay target shooting team to the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Scribani Rossi was victorious not only as an athlete, but also as a coach.
He took the Italian team on to win gold, silver and bronze in Atlanta in 1996, and the Australian team on to win gold and silver in Sydney.
Following his success at the Sydney Olympics, Scribani Rossi left the sporting sector in pursuit of a career in the corporate world.
The beginning of a new adventure
Since his first time at a shooting range, Scribani Rossi has always had a good relationship with Italian firearms manufacturing company Beretta.
The company initially sponsored him as a shooter, then employed him, firstly as public relations manager and then as a sales agent.
“At the end of my sporting career, I opened a shooting school in Sydney,” he says.
“I had a line of sports clothing and my rapport with Beretta went uninterrupted.
“Then the president came to Australia and invited me to take on the important role of promoting Beretta products in Australia.
“I presented a business plan to then-president, Ugo Gussalli Beretta, in which I proposed an aggressive strategy for penetrating the Australian market.
“The head office took my recommendations on board and, in 1999, Beretta Australia was born.”
Speaking with one of the biggest representatives of the firearms industry, it’s impossible to skip over the controversial topic of the distribution and possession of arms.
Following the Port Arthur massacre, in 1996, Australia has been subject to a tightening of legislation around firearms.
Scribani Rossi points out that in a country with such clear-cut gun laws, the focus should be rather on the illegal distribution of firearms and the violent crimes committed with weapons, which aren’t necessarily guns.
But he does not by any means avoid the topic, instead reiterating that “companies that produce and distribute firearms have the same concerns as those who oppose the sale of firearms altogether”.
“We belong to the same community and our primary concern is that firearms remain exclusively in the hands of those who legally have the right to use them,” he adds.
“The firearms that are used for criminal purposes have nothing to do with us.
“We use firearms for recreational purposes and legal activities.
“For the rest, we’re on the side of those who oppose us.”
The ICCI in Melbourne
Having been at the helm of the ICCI since last September, Scribani Rossi says he hadn’t sought the role, but took it on with complete dedication.
“When I was elected by the board’s majority, and I accepted, I made it known that I was keen to put 100 per cent of my professionalism into the new role,” he says.
Presented on February 28 at an event at the Italian Institute of Culture (IIC), the ICCI’s 2019 program is structured around the principle of strengthening the presence of important Italian companies within the board, “without ever taking away from the important work of the actual board members, who are representatives of unquestionably prestigious companies that are well known within the Italian community and which have made a signifcant contribution to the growth and development of the country over the years”.
“The presence of multinational Italian companies and brands within the ICCI would guarantee even more support and credibility and would be a driving force in networking,” Scribani Rossi says.
Scribani Rossi adopts the same approach to run the ICCI as he does his company: “Without any agenda or personal interests, and with my head always down and working.”
“Italian investors see Australia as a country where it’s easy to invest, due to its lean bureaucracy,” he concludes.
“We also have the task of promoting broader image of contemporary Italy to Australia.”