Massimo Stano won one of Italy’s five gold medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and his thoughts are naturally gravitating towards his title defence in the 20km race walk in Paris 2024 next summer.
But prior to Paris, there is the small matter of a home European Athletics Championships in Rome from 7-12 June.
For the first time in an Olympic year-edition of the European Athletics Championships, the 20km race walk features on the competition programme and where better than the Italian capital - a city steeped in race walking tradition - for Stano to potentially complete the set of major titles?
"I was talking about it a few days ago with Maurizio Damilano, who entered the Olympic Stadium as a winner [in the 20km race walk] at the 1987 World Athletics Championships. When I competed in Beijing 2015 I came 20th but the emotion of entering that packed stadium was crazy.
“I can't imagine what it means to be the first to enter the Stadio Olimpico: it would be fantastic, because the European Championship is the only title I'm missing," said Stano in a recent interview with FIDAL.
After winning the 20km race walk title at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Stano stepped up in distance and prevailed again in the inaugural 35km race walk title at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene.
But three championships in the space of just over 12 months perhaps proved one championship and one race too many for Stano. He could only finish eighth in the 20km race walk at the 2022 European Athletics Championships on an interminably drizzly morning in Munich.
However, Rome 2024 will provide Stano with a timely opportunity to complete the Grand Slam of major race walk titles on the road to Paris 2024 where he will have a brace of opportunities to add to his already impressive medal collection.
“The idea is to do two races at the Olympics, with the 20km as the main objective but also the relay. The new format is to my advantage and that of Antonella Palmisano [the reigning Olympic women’s 20km race walk champion] although I feel really sorry for the 50km and 35km specialists who will not have opportunities,” said Stano, who believes the Italians could prosper in the newest event on the athletics programme.
“I believe that in the world, to be honest, few teams can be as competitive as Italy: I'm thinking of Spain, China, perhaps Australia. It's a great opportunity. We can bring another medal and this time together. To qualify we will have to go through the World Race Walking Team Championships in Antalya, Türkiye at the end of April," added Stano.
And then it’s onto Rome and a chance to create history in front of his home fans and family, including his three-year-old daughter Sophie, at the European Athletics Championships in Rome in June.
Tickets for Rome 2024 can be purchased here.