Among the moving personal stories of athletes at the Paralympic Games in London, few surprised reporters more than that of the winner of the bronze in the 1500 meter race: blind runner Annalisa Minetti of Italy, who said she values her rosary more than any award.
In an interview with RaiSport after her competition, Annalisa said the “medal” that never leaves her is a rosary, which she held up in her hand.
“Up to now this has always been my medal, it has always run by my side.”
“When you have faith, you can endure suffering,” she added. “There are some sufferings that have no name, that you can’t describe or justify, but when you believe in God, you no longer ask why me and not someone else. And that is a great achievement.”
Annalisa, who is married and the mother of one child, has gained fame in Italy not only as an athlete but also as a singer.
She was born on December 27, 1976 in the town of Rho, near Milan. As a young girl she began taking dance classes, and by age 15 she developed a talent for singing. In 1996, at the age of 20, she was diagnosed with a degenerative disease in eyes which gradually left her completely blind.
In 1998, Annalisa won the prestigious San Remo Song Festival. “Jesus is the person who has always been at my side. I felt him during the entire 1500 meter and throughout my experience at the Paralympics,” she said.