Tokyo, Japan, May 13, 2016 – Antonella del Core says it is “100 percent certain” that she intends to retire, but before she does she wants to enjoy one more crack at an Olympic Games.
The 35-year-old spiker is part of the Italy team that is in Tokyo for the FIVB World Olympic Qualification Tournament that begins on Saturday May 14 and finishes on May 22. The top three teams will qualify for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games plus the highest finishing Asian team.
Del Core has played in two Olympic Games already – Athens 2004 and London 2012 – and so knows what the team must do over the nine-day tournament.
“We have a diverse team, with a mix of young and experienced players,” del Core said. “It is certainly a good thing, something extra that we have.
“On a technical level there are still things that we need to work on and we only have a few days to ensure that everything is in place for the tournament, but we are working hard. We all know it will be difficult to book our place in Rio and we don’t just have to give everything, we have to give more than we can.”
Marco Bonitta’s side will start off against South Korea before they take on Thailand, the Dominican Republic, Peru, the Netherlands, Japan and Kazakhstan.
The meeting with South Korea will bring back memories of their quarterfinal defeat at London 2012, though Italy are pushing such memories to the side.
“It is true that we are playing South Korea again, but every tournament has its own history,” del Core said. “It is in the past, a long time ago and there will be two different teams on the court.
“Korea have a lot of good players and Kim (Sa Nee) is a real star. We will have to keep an eye on her.”
Whenever del Core’s career does come to an end she will be able to look back on a highly successful career that up to the start of the World Olympic Qualification Tournament had featured 265 appearances for the Azzurre.
For Italy she has won FIVB World Cup gold in 2007 and 2011, CEV European Championship gold in 2007 and 2009, the same year she helped Italy to gold at the FIVB Grand Champions Cup.
The Naples-born del Core also won FIVB World Grand Prix silver in 2004 and 2005 and bronze in 2006, 2007 and 2010.
“It is fair to say that I haven’t missed out on anything and that is one of the reasons why I have decided to retire at the end of the season. I have experienced a lot and I believe this is the right time to say ‘enough’.
“I feel satisfied, I have enjoyed myself and I have grown enormously as a player, but now as a woman I feel the need for something different. I hope to be a mother and spend time at home with my family and above all see more of my husband Francesco.”