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Italy's orphan diver puts silver into perspective

Ruslan Cristofori
Ruslan Cristofori, 3m Diving silver medallist. Getty Images
Ruslan Adriano Cristofori's emotional European Games

Young Italian diver Ruslan Adriano Cristofori completed an extraordinary journey on Saturday night which has taken him from a Ukrainian orphanage all the way to the medal podium at the Baku 2015 European Games.

Thrilled and surprised though he was at winning his silver in the 3m springboard event, he said that his emotions were as nothing compared to the moment he first met the adoptive parents to whom he feels he owes everything.

Following the drama of Saturday’s competition which led to Cristofori taking advantage of mistakes by other divers and perform brilliantly to take the silver behind Britain's James Heatly, the 18-year-old reflected on how proud his parents would be of his achievement.

“I don’t know what happened when I was a baby but I was orphaned and it was only at the age of four that I met the Italian family who had been looking to adopt a child,” said the Rome-based teenager.

Marco Cristofori, a news agency photograper, and primary school teacher Germana had seen Ruslan’s picture on a Ukrainian orphanage site and after a long wait to go through Italy's strict adoption procedures, they were finally able to meet their new son in the Ukrainian town of Kherson.

“I remember the first time they came. There was great emotion, much more than winning this silver medal when I met my parents for the first time,” said Cristofori, whose diving career began when he moved away with his new family.

“We moved to Spain because at the time the family were working there and after 12 years in Madrid we came back to Italy,” he said.

“My dad is working in Madrid at the moment and mum is in Rome and I haven’t had a chance to talk to them yet, but I think it will be very emotional for them.

“My parents have given me everything, all the support for school and everything, and they’re my biggest support in diving. So I think they’ll be very happy and very proud of me.”

My parents have given me everything-Ruslan Cristofori


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