For the Podium. And for WomenEMMA TWIGG, NEW ZEALAND ROWER AND A FIFA MASTER GRADUATE, WILL PARTICIPATE IN HER FOURTH OLYMPIC GAMES TO CHASE A PODIUM SHE NEARLY MISSED TWICE. BUT ALSO TO CONTINUE HER BATTLE FOR GENDER EQUALITY
At the age of 34, when most athletes think about they will do when they quit and take stock of their past achievements, Emma Twigg is instead preparing for the Tokyo Olympics. These are her fourth games, since she already took part in Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio 2016. In the latter two she finished fourth, a bitter disappointment for an athlete who won a gold medal, two silver medals and two bronze medals in various editions of the World Rowing Championships. Yet Emma, a New Zealander who graduated from the International MA in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport (FIFA Master), jointly organized by SDA Bocconi School of Management, De Montfort University, and the University of Neuchatel, had already retired from official competitions to put her studies to good use by going to work for the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.
It was there that she watched the Winter Olympics. "It was 2018, and I had not rowed for almost two years. But the Games reignited the flame and I went back to rowing," she explains. "After Rio, I thought I was done, that I would retire, but after taking a step back and getting some perspective, I changed my mind and went on to join the New Zealand rowing team for Tokyo."
For her, who started rowing as a child, following the example of her brother who was already doing competitions coached by her father, the first Olympics came when she was only 21, and her perception was different back then: "It was so surreal, I was still so young, but it was something I had dreamed of all my life. At the time I didn't even realize it, I just accepted that I was good enough to be there, I felt I had earned it, but looking back it was a huge achievement and it was very strange,” says Emma. "I remember feeling that it was a very special thing, something like ‘I’m just 21 and I'm representing my country in the biggest sporting event in the world', that is what I thought.”
Emma Twigg, however, will not just compete for herself and her country, she will also battle for what she strongly believes in, the battle for the rights of women: "I think the more we can focus on women in sports, the better, since sport is an extraordinary vehicle for fostering equality between women and men. But I think there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done. The more we talk about it, the more we are likely to see the profiles of female athletes become role models for young women."
by Davide Ripamonti
Translated by Alex Foti