Look: Italian Olympic medallist joins beach clean-up drive in UAE

Gregorio Paltrinieri has been doing similar environmental protection initiatives back home


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Sat 18 Dec 2021, 5:53 PM

Italy’s Olympic medallist and world record holder Gregorio Paltrinieri joined kids, volunteers and the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) for a beach clean-up at Al Bahia Beach on Yas Island.

Paltrinieri, an environmentalist, is participating in the ongoing FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) held at Etihad Arena where he led his team to gold medal in the open water mixed team relay (4×1500m).

The Italian swimming star underlined that it was his duty to raise awareness about beach debris, pollution and the significance of protecting the environment.

“It is really important for us, as athletes, to leave a message. We use this environment, this week, for the competition, so we will be around the beach, and we are trying to clean as much as possible,” he told Khaleej Times.

The current 1,500m freestyle (short course) world record holder was joined by a group of 20 people, including young swimmers from a local club Soul Sports, to help mitigate the problems caused by ocean debris and the danger inflicted on marine life.

“It feels great to do this. There are kids here and it was super fun.”

The 27-year-old has been doing similar environmental protection initiatives in Italy.

“Back home, with some of my friends, we organised an open water competition, where we didn’t use plastic at all. We don’t use a motorboat but kayak. It is really important for the environment. I have been doing this for the past few years.”

Paltrinieri, a silver medallist in the 800m freestyle and bronze medallist in the 10km open water marathon at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, was joined by the championships’ official mascot - Dana the Hawksbill Turtle, which is one of two endangered species of turtle that the EAD works hard to rehabilitate back into their natural habitat.


Khansa Ibraheem Al Blouki, director, Environmental Outreach, Environmental Information, Science and Outreach Management at the EAD, said the beach clean-up initiative has received overwhelming response since its launch in October.

“The beach clean-up sessions we have been running, in partnership with Abu Dhabi Sports Council, have been a resounding success. We are really grateful to multiple Olympic medallist and world-record holder Gregorio Paltrinieri for taking time out of his busy schedule. It was a fun and enjoyable clean-up.”

Al Blouki hoped the initiative helps to highlight the importance of protecting the Hawksbill Turtle.

“We hope communities will continue to do their part in protecting these habitats for years to come.”

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