Manuel Bortuzzo is our Person of the Year

In the pitch darkness of billions of lies, we persist in seeking the light of truth; in an era dominated by the characters, as an icon of the past year we chose an Example.

tempo di lettura: 6 minuti

Authentic and therefore bright, like a mirror capable of externally reflecting one’s inner beauty, making it a gift to this mad world where emptiness has taken the place of substance, selfishness has replaced common sense and social networks have suppressed much of our desire to be together.

Athlete, friend, boyfriend, son, boy. This is Manuel Bortuzzo, born in 1999, he could have died on February 2, 2019 and, instead, was born another time. If I close my eyes and think back to his story I see three flashes: he dancing “I migliori anni della nostra vita” tightly clutching his girlfriend Martina, he collapsing on the ground after that damned bullet hits him in the back, he preparing the backpack to go back to the swimming pool. «It may seem strange, but the most exciting moment was preparing the backpack: picking up my things made me realize that I was still me, that I hadn’t changed so much», he says in his book, that not surprisingly he chose to title “Rinascere” (Rebirth).

So, the other day, just before we talked for the interview, I had those three moments that kept working in my head, as if they were trying to communicate something to me. Then, the sound of Manuel’s voice was like the switch that allowed me to switch, immediately focusing on the great strength of this young man.

While I was reading about your return to the pool, I tried to identify myself with you to imagine what you would have thought while swimming for the first time after “that night” (as Manuel defines in the book the evening of February 2, ed) …

At all and nothing, I experienced those strokes of mine in a sort of confusion: within a second I reviewed the movie of my career and I thought that the swimming pool was my starting point, exactly as it was when I was a scared child.

You know Manuel, the way you reacted to such a tragedy has made you a positive example, alas nowadays one of the few around, especially among your peers. Do you see yourself this way?

At the beginning I did not experience this very much and it took me a while to realize that I had become a point of reference for many people. Now I can say that I live it with serenity because I know that I just have to be myself, so it’s easy for me. Now I really do what I want and I like to think that even in a few years people will continue to love me.

The cover we decided to dedicate to  Manuel

Of course, being true to ourselves even when the popularity falls on us is one of the most difficult challenges, but hearing your words I understand you are supported, even from the family point of view. I believe this is the best antidote to all temptations, or not?

Absolutely, it’s thanks to my family if I’m like this today. Recently I received many proposals to become an influencer and use my social networks to advertise products or anything else, but I do not do any of this because I am the same as before: on my public profile, as it used to be, I write to share what I live and give voice to those who identify with me. Everyone has had bad stories, but few have the opportunity to share their emotions with many people.

Honestly, the more I listen to you, the more difficult it is to ask you questions, because I would let you speak free for hours. Is there anything special you would like to say to our readers?

Of course: I always say that life is the best gift we have and that it is not worth thinking too much about what we have or what happened to us. We just have to live. What really matters are the main values and affections, without them we can’t really set ourselves any goal, perhaps by trying first to defeat hatred with love.

Audrey Hepburn uttered a wonderful phrase: “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible!”. What does it mean for you to challenge the impossible?

Get to the end knowing that you have really given everything, which is the only way to not live in regret.

Meanwhile, several things are laying in Manuel’s backpack: what he needs to swim, the love of his loved ones, the affection of many people and the awareness that not even “that night” can prevent the sun from rising again and that, therefore, the best years of his life are those in front of him. Starting with this brand new 2020, which we inaugurate in the best way, or by dedicating this special cover to who, in our opinion, deserve it more than anyone else.

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