Atleti Polimi - Riccardo De Tollis
Interview with the CableWakeboard champion, Management Engineering student at Politecnico di Milano
Another conversation with the athletes of Polimi. This time, we sat down with Riccardo De Tollis, 21, a cable wakeboarding champion and Management Engineering student at the Politecnico di Milano.
For those who were not aware, cable wakeboarding is a variation of water skiing which uses a board instead of the skis, with the athlete towed along by an electric device similar to a ski lift rather than by a boat. The unusual feature of this sport is the tricks involved, which the wakeboarder performs by lifting themselves up over the water either by themselves, or by using floating structures known as rails.
Hi Riccardo, how did your passion for cable wakeboarding come about?
The first time I tried surfing was when I was 11 years old. I was in Greece. When I got home from the holiday, I had already made my mind up: I wanted to do some kind of board sport. Not long after, I discovered cable wakeboarding and I haven’t stopped since.
You’ve taken part in quite a few competitions now. What would you consider your greatest success?
My greatest success was in the European Championships in Milan, 2018, because it was my first real international result.
But I’ve also taken part in some other important competitions, such as the world championships in Argentina in 2019, when I came sixth, and the Red Bull WakeDuel in Lithuania earlier this year, when I managed to take fifth place. These were all major personal successes for me.
Which of the races that you have competed in was the most thrilling?
The most exciting race, in my view, was without a doubt the 2018 European Championship in Milan. To win that race on my home turf, with all my friends and family there and supporting me, was an indescribable experience.
What does sport mean to you? Do you think it has taught you something in other areas of life as well?
Pancho Gonzales once said: “There’s a virtuous cycle in sport: the more you enjoy yourself, the more you train; the more you train, the more you improve; the more you improve, the more you enjoy yourself”.
And that’s precisely what this sport represents to me: being lucky enough to do something I love, where there’s always something new to learn. Sport in general has taught me to give 110% in everything I decide to do... or at least to try my best.
Why did you choose to study Management Engineering?
I was torn between becoming an engineer and studying economics. Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering seemed like a perfect blend of the two.
Are you satisfied with the Politecnico di Milano as your choice of university?
Up to now, I can definitely say that I am. What’s more, living and training in Milan means that I can reconcile my two lives: study and sport.
Speaking of which, how do you manage to strike a balance between these two aspects of your life?
It often proves tricky, especially if you want to have a social life too. Luckily, the Poli helps me with that in the form of the services of the Dual Career programme and the scholarships on offer.
What does the Dual Career programme offer you?
The most helpful thing about the programme that I’m taking advantage of this term is the ability to move exam dates in case I’m participating in a competition. It’s quite a significant advantage.
What advice would you give an athlete who doesn’t know whether to enrol at university or not?
I’d tell them that it’s a big commitment, but that the results are definitely worth the effort you put in.
Do you manage to find time to have a personal life? What else do you like doing, besides sport and studying?
The vast majority of my life is centred around studying and sport, both of which have allowed me to meet loads of people whom I really respect and to make some wonderful friends. I would also like to mention my parents, who are great people who support me in everything I do.
As for other passions, I don’t know... I don’t have much free time left... [laughs] I definitely love nature, animals and travelling.
What do you like about Milan?
Milan is a great city that offers a wealth of opportunities: that’s what I like about it.
That said, I often feel that I need to take a break from all the hustle and bustle of the city. Going home is always a brilliant feeling.
What are your goals and dreams, sporting and otherwise, for the future?
My dream would be to represent my country in the Olympics... But for that to happen, wakeboarding would have to become part of the Olympics! [laughs] With that in mind, I’m not sure I’ll manage to take part as an athlete in time. But who knows, maybe it would be just as special to go as a trainer...
As for other goals, the world championships are definitely on my list.
In my private life, I’d like to find a job that I can do with the same passion I pour into sport. That’d be a dream for sure!
To find out about the Dual Career programme, which helps our students who practise sport at the highest level to pursue both their sporting and educational activities with confidence and success, visit the Polimi Sport website.
Photo credits ©mm_photovisuals (1/3/5/7) ©robertozampino_ph (9)