Our 12-strong Team Lëtzebuerg has athletes competing in athletics, cycling, swimming, equestrianism, table tennis, triathlon and archery. (eleventh of twelve)
FYI: The so-called “cadre élite” comprises those athletes who have both participated in a certain number of high-level competitions and either achieved, or been close to achieving, the specific standard set to enter the “high performance” category of their sport (distinguished from “mass sport” or “recreational sport”).
The “cadre promotion” includes athletes who have not yet made the “elite” category but have a realistic chance of doing so within the first 6 years upon admission. This is not achieved by meeting specific criteria, but by their general performance as well as participation in high performance international competitions (within respective age categories and 5th and 6th years of performance).
Raphaël Stacchiotti has been an elite category athlete since 2009, and is going into his fourth Olympics. With swimming as his discipline, Stacchioti will be doing four x 200m freestyle relays.
Part of the Ettelbrück “Le Dauphin” Swimming Club, Stacchioti was chosen to carry the Grand Duchy’s flag not only in his first Games, but again in 2021: “It’s a great honour to be able to represent your country again and again. My biggest challenge involved – when they announced the qualifying times – having to break a new national record: under 2 minutes, which I hadn’t achieved in 7 years.”
Having qualified, with a margin of five hundredths of a second, in July 2019, Stacchioti feels sentimental about his upcoming competition, and not only because they might be his last: “Since I was a child, 4 has been my favourite number. It’s always been a dream to participate 4 times.”
A father of twins since summer 2020, Stacchioti had some conflicting schedules in the run-up to this years’ postponed Olympics: “It was a bit of a dilemma, I mean, a bit of a ‘luxury’ dilemma, because I was qualified, but everything else in my life didn’t seem to allow for the possibility to continue as a professional. If I can perform well now, then it’s proof I really worked hard this year. I personally am not setting myself any set times or ranking that I want to achieve; it’s my last time so I just want to enjoy it and do everything well.”
And while there have been a few goals Stacchioti hasn’t been able to achieve, he has much to proud of: “There are a few targets I didn’t manage to reach, like getting to the semi-final. And I have to admit, it probably won’t happen this year. It’s been a really intense year. […] To carry the flag at 16 was the most amazing thing ever, no matter what you won or what final or semi-final you reached, you just can’t compare it to anything. Well, maybe a gold medal. But to be the only one to represent the whole country, and to have all your friends and the whole nation behind you, it’s an incredibly joyful experience.”