Nicco Campriani, a 2011 industrial engineering graduate of the West Virginia University and three-time Olympic Gold medalist, has retired from competitive rifle shooting and will soon begin a new career with the International Olympic Committee.
Campriani, a native of Florence, Italy, fired his final shots during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games. He walked into the event knowing it would be his third and final Olympic appearance and was determined to go out with a bang.
Campriani delivered one of the best performances of his career, earning himself two gold medals, bringing his overall Olympic medal count to three Gold and one Silver. His exceptional performance also made him the first rifle athlete to win three Olympic Gold medals and the first to win two Gold medals at one Olympic Games, adding to a long list of accolades.
Although Campriani describes his experience in Rio as one of the highlights of his life, he hasn’t picked up his rifle since.
“For me, something had changed in the last few years,” said Campriani. “I could not fantasize anymore about my dream job or the city where I would like to raise my family without checking first if there was a shooting range nearby. The same sport that for many years had pushed me forward was now holding me back.”
After a 16-year rifle career, Campriani donated his rifle to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, and he has no intentions of shooting in the foreseeable future.
“Rifle represented a source of unique opportunities for me,” explained Campriani. “Thanks to it I met my fiancé Petra (Zublasing), received a scholarship to study at West Virginia University and even worked for Ferrari on sports technology projects. Shooting sports was the key that opened up all of these amazing life experiences for me but it was time to move on.”
After retiring, Campriani began searching for opportunities to work as a professional engineer. Like many professional athletes, he found it challenging to transition into a new career path after his athletic career ended since most Olympic athletes often have a work and education history that differs vastly from non-athletes.
However, his direct experience of the retirement process and his unique athletic background ultimately made him a perfect candidate for a position within the International Olympic Committee’s Athlete Career Program. He received and accepted an offer to work for the ACP as a project manager.
“This is a very exciting moment for me as dual-careers and career-transitions are both topics very close to my heart,” said Campriani. “Reminding athletes to build an identity outside sports is a meaningful mission because in the end medals and records do not define who you are, it’s the exact opposite.”
The ACP supports Olympic athletes as they transition out of their sporting careers. Campriani will provide them with resources that will enhance their employment opportunities following retirement such as life-skill trainings, professional development opportunities and job placement assistance.
His overall mission will be to provide athletes with all the tools and resources necessary to make informed career decisions and begin successful careers.
“I will approach the new challenges of my future career with a unique set of skills that I developed in many years competing at the elite level,” said Campriani. “Managing stressful scenarios, applying a strict self-discipline, being able to motivate and push myself to the limit; this is the true legacy of my sport.”
In additional to his new role, Campriani will also be working with the Italian National Olympic Committee, or CONI, and the Italian Ministry of Sport on a project to bring a program similar to the National Collegiate Athletic Association to Italy. The NCAA creates a tiered structure for all college sports in the U.S. that helps programs grow in participation and popularity and also provides an abundance of scholarship opportunities to college athletes, something Campriani hopes to extend to his native country in the near future.
Campriani believes that the opportunity to work with the IOC and the Italian Government would not have been possible without the great mentorship he found during his time at WVU. Among those mentors are Jon Hammond, coach of WVU’s Rifle Team; Edward Etzel, sports psychologist and professor of sport and exercise psychology; and Jack Byrd, professor of industrial and management systems engineering.
“Etzel used to tell me that life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning how to dance in the rain,” explained Campriani. “Well, through their lessons they all taught me how, now it’s time to dance.”
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