Emanuele Lambertini: Eliminating differences through prostheses

Italian wheelchair fencer helped his team reach fifth in Rio 2016 and now intends to take gold at Tokyo 2020
Italian wheelchair fencer helped his team reach fifth in Rio 2016 and now intends to take gold at Tokyo 2020

Italian wheelchair fencer aims for gold at Tokyo 2020 but dreams of changing the world of prosthesis to help people with impairment

Emanuele Lambertini is not your typical 21-year-old.

He knows exactly what he wants to do with his life and is already halfway down the track to doing it.

"I got the inspiration by myself because one day some years ago, three or four years ago, I was in my orthopaedic [clinic] and I asked them for a particular bionic knee or foot or other creative stuff which you see in the movies. The orthopaedic technician who was with me simply answered that what I have been talking about have not been invented yet,” Lambertini explained.

“So instead of crying and complaining, ‘Oh why [has] nobody invented [this] yet?’ I said, ‘You know what, I will invent them for everybody’.”

So, as well as training his heart out, the 2017 Italian men’s team foil world championship gold medallist enrolled at Bologna University to study automation engineering.

For the best part of three years now, maths, physics, informatics and more have battled for headspace with his sword technique.

“I see there are a lot of technologies that will allow a person like me or any other person who is an amputee to do anything they like but there’s a lot of work to be done yet,” said the men’s foil world No. 4.

“I am studying this because I want to eliminate the differences that are still evident [for people with impairment].”

And he has already got to the stage of identifying his first major project.

“My idea of prosthesis is [to create] a bionic arm or bionic leg which will allow you to do anything,” said Lambertini.

“For example,” he continued, “nowadays there isn’t a unique prosthesis for walking, running, swimming and many other things. If you want to walk you use a prosthesis. If you want to run, [you need] another one and et cetera for all the stuff you want do. So, the first step would be to create one unique prosthesis which could include all the activities that anyone would like to do."

As you may have gathered, and as Lambertini shares with a smile, he does not like to sit still.

His mind of course is not only full of engineering.

When he was age 17, he became the youngest Italian Paralympian to compete at Rio 2016 and helped the men’s foil team finish fifth.

“Nowadays I always think about Tokyo,” he said laughing, before adding, “But if you have one goal in your mind, always thinking about it is not going to help you.”

An U23 men’s foil world championship gold as well as a senior team silver last year proved the Cento-native’s claim that he is getting better and better. This and his experience four years ago may ensure that he leaves Tokyo with a gold in September 2021.

Whatever happens, Lambertini, will not stop charging forever forward.

“Never be shy of your situation,” he smiled. “Always enjoy life, because life is fantastic.”

By the International Paralympic Committee