30 July 12:10 (BST)

Italian rower ABBAGNALE flies the family flag in Glasgow

GLASGOW - Italy's Vincenzo ABBAGNALE will look to keep his family's rowing legacy alive at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships.

"My destiny in rowing was inevitable and already written,” the 25-year-old, who will compete in the men's four at Strathclyde Country Park, said.

Vincenzo's father Giuseppe and uncle Carmine, known as the ‘big brothers', were the most successful men's coxed pair of their generation, winning Olympic gold medals in the event at Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988, along with seven world titles.

Their youngest brother, Agostino, was a three-time Olympic gold medallist - in the men's quadruple sculls in 1988 and Sydney 2000, and the double sculls at Atlanta 1996 - and a two-time world champion. They were all trained by their uncle, Giuseppe LA MURA.

Vincenzo, who took up the sport when he was 11, was keen to meet his family's expectations. He did not disappoint: at 20, he won the men's coxed pair at the 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju, Republic of Korea.

"My surname made the history of the sport and was a heavy responsibility to take on my shoulders, especially when I was younger," he said. "I have learned to live with the idea that, in bad and good times, things depend on me and my abilities, not on someone else's."

In 2016 the ABBAGNALE family's reputation was tarnished when Vincenzo was given a 16-month ban for missing three doping tests. He was absent from that year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as a result, blaming a car accident for causing him to miss the third test.

"This experience hurt me deeply," ABBAGNALE said. "Missing an Olympic Games is difficult to accept, but I grew up and matured. I've learned that things cannot be left to chance and that you need to take care of all the details."

During his time away from the sport, ABBAGNALE trained on his own, rejoining the national team for the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida, competing in the men's coxed pair.

"I had only one goal in mind - to come back stronger than ever," he said. "I started all over again."

In Glasgow, ABBAGNALE will join experienced team-mates Giovanni ABAGNALE (no relation), Marco DI COSTANZO and Matteo CASTALDO, the reigning European champions in the men's four.

"We are in good spirits and we want to keep the Italian rowing tradition high," said the latest member of this famous rowing clan. He will want to do the same for his family's, too.

The rowing competition at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships takes place at Strathclyde Country Park from 2-5 August.

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