My name is Irbin (Augusto) Vicco, I’m 27 years old and from the province of Varese. I was born with a malformation in my right leg and, at the age of 3, it was decided that the limb would be amputated. That didn’t stop me from being a sociable child with a lively curiosity, which led to me receiving the ‘Premio XXV Aprile’ award from the mayor for scholastic merit when I was in primary school. I have explored a range of fields of study. Initially, I was attracted to sales (which I felt was compatible with my personality) but I had to give up my studies for health reasons before I could finish, and dedicated myself to work. Not happy with having left that unfinished, a few years ago I resumed my studies and completed my higher education, this time in the humanities. Today I work for a leading company in the watchmaking sector, with which I am happy to collaborate. In the future, I would like to grow professionally and broaden my knowledge and perhaps continue my studies once my sports career ends.
So, my sports career. I came into contact with the world of sport as a child; I swam for one (or maybe two) seasons and, despite having expressed the desire to continue, didn’t have the opportunity to do so. Six years ago, while participating in an event presenting (and testing) various types of prosthetic feet, I was encouraged by my then-new orthopaedic point of reference, Pirola in Monza, to try the running prosthesis. A new world opened up to me. I started running and didn’t want to stop. That same day I met many people with the same physical condition as me, in particular a table tennis athlete from the ‘Polha Varese’ club, a multi-sport club for people with disabilities that operates in the Varese area, and of which I am now a proud member. He welcomed me into the big family of sports and, shortly afterwards, my career as an athlete took off.
Now I’m an Azzurro athlete (an athlete who represents Italy), specialising in the long jump. I’ve received my first call to the national team, for the 2021 World Para Athletics European Championships, which take place in June. Sports aim to exalt humankind in order to achieve results, they force you to channel all your energy into trying to be the best you can be. Victory, in any discipline, in addition to the good fortune of having been blessed with physical talents, comes from the will to give your best: no one can reap the rewards without sacrifice. Be it in individual or team sports. This is true in all areas of life, but sport is also friendship, loyalty, rivalry, fairness, passion, perseverance, sacrifice, fear, ambition, tears, laughter, disappointment… all concentrated in a few hours, minutes or even seconds of a performance, in which you play for EVERYTHING.
Often, when I have to summarise in a few lines who I am and introduce myself, I have to summarise myself as a Paralympic athlete. As a person who, at the age of 3, looked down and saw he was missing a leg. And it is true that this is what I am and is probably the reason I am being interviewed… but for 25 years I have always wanted to be simply Irbin, a reserved but observant guy, determined to be known only by those who really want to get to know him, a little at a time, between one exchange and another, because this is what we do as social animals: we try to get to know our neighbours. Appearances are important, yes, but I have never wanted to be ‘the one missing a leg’: I find that reductive.
Today I want, by accepting everything about myself, to show who I really am, because in my shortcomings I also find what others are missing. Watching the Paralympic swimming competitions, I saw people who were ‘worse off’ than me trying very hard, laughing and rejoicing with their teammates and, little by little, they helped me (unconsciously!) to dismantle all the prejudices I had… against myself! Seeing those who have ‘less’ than us being at peace with themselves is excellent food for thought, to be grateful for what we have and not feel sorry about what we lack.
I don’t know how helpful my testimony can be, but if I could give back a tenth of what observing others has given me, well… that would be wonderful. It is sacrosanct to say that negative experiences help us to adapt, to change our way of thinking if necessary, to draw on resources that we often put aside. Does it depend on the scale of the incident? Perhaps, I believe that if we are willing to change our perspective and put ourselves on the line, we will discover that not all bad things come to harm us. If we are willing to embrace the new things that life often has in store, we can find paths that we didn’t think were meant for us. Isn’t that beautiful?