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Olympic champion Vezzali to oversee sports in Italy

ROME (AP) — Six-time Olympic fencing champion Valentina Vezzali was named the Italian government’s cabinet undersecretary in charge of sports on Friday.

The 47-year-old Vezzali will oversee relations with the Italian Olympic Committee, known as CONI, and also manage amateur sports across the country.

She will immediately be tested by government measures aimed at containing spread of the coronavirus that limit the practice of many sports.

The announcement was welcomed by CONI after Italy narrowly avoided being put on probation by the International Olympic Committee in January because of supposed interference by the previous government.

CONI president Giovanni Malagò said Vezzali’s nomination was “exactly” what the Olympic body hoped for.

“We had asked for someone competent who knows our problems, which are numerous and unfortunately urgent,” Malagò said, noting that Vezzali is “the winningest female athlete in Italian sports history.”

Vezzali, who retired in 2016, also won a silver and two bronzes for a total of eight medals in her Olympic career — plus 16 golds at the world championships and 13 European titles.

Vincenzo Spadafora was the sports minister in the previous government.

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