Blood & Community fuel Olympic hopes
On Sunday, Feb. 10, Alex Isotti-Pongetti, Operating Manager of MSU’s Underground will depart for Lake Placid, New York where he will train with the Canadian Olympic Skeleton team.
The 22-year-old Isotti-Pongetti, who graduated last year with a BA in geography, once competed for the Marauder’s football team as a tailback.
“I studied geography, but really I took football as a course as well. Football and geography were the only things I did in school. After four years I have a BA and am working full time at the Underground,” said Isotti-Pongetti.
His four years here did not go as smoothly as the high-school football start would have thought. After suffering an ACL injury that required surgery in 2008, Isotti-Pongetti’s football career was put on hold. It was a difficult pill to swallow for the life-long athlete who got his start playing soccer at a young age.
Isotti-Pongetti was able to recover from his injury to play one final season for the football team during the 2009 season - a recovery that was undoubtedly due to his competitive spirit. “I’ve always been competitive, I love trying to enhance myself to be the best in my field. Athletically, I find that the challenge of there always being someone better than you. You always have to compete and strive to push yourself more and more. Athletics is just something I have a passion for.”
Now, with his football career and university degree in the rear-view mirror, Isotti-Pongetti has set his sights on a different type of goal. Within the next few months, the former power-lifter will be training and competing to earn a spot on the Canadian national Skeleton or Bobsled team.
A life dedicated to sports and a career as a varsity athlete wearing the Maroon and Grey has prepared Isotti-Pongetti for the next step in his athletic career. “Right now my goal is to pursue a career in bobsled and skeleton, with skeleton being my first choice just because it is a sport I can train for myself and put my passion into it. I have always been a fast individual and that’s why I got scouted here at Mac,” said the Hamilton native.
Isotti-Pongetti is not the first person in his family to pursue international athletics. His grandfather, Livio Isotti, competed at the 1948 games as a cyclist winning several medals.
Alex is inspired by his grandfather ability to be “one of those athletes that never gave up.” His grandfather’s way of doing things is something that the Olympic hopeful has injected into his own life.
“Every individual in this world always has a goal to be the best possible. For me there is nothing better than to represent my country and possibly win a gold. At the same time, having Olympic blood from my grandfather I do want to represent my family as well. He has done it in the past and I want to make him proud. Sadly he has passed away but that’s what I strive for,” said Alex of his new goals.
In January, Isotti-Pongetti got his first chance to impress the national team coaches, doing positively in his first national-stage events. “I tested really well and they said I should look forward to moving on to the next stages, and I received an email a couple of weeks ago to attend training camp in Lake Placid. It will be a chance to get to know the sport, train with the athletes and get to know the coaches.”
In addition to carrying on the lineage of his family name, Alex also strives to join a group of McMaster alumni that has competed on an international level. Most notably former Marauders running back Jesse Lumsden, whose football career also fell victim to a knee injury.
“To be in that elite group of the few that can say they have done it is something that you can’t put a price on; it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and the feeling would overwhelm me,” said Isotti-Pongetti of the chance to join his fellow Mac alum.
Although Alex’s chances look good right now, he is not complacent about his opportunity. “It is a motivation; you can’t expect to have anything handed to you on a silver platter. In my life I have learned that whenever you are working there is always someone working twice as hard as you.”