Gregorio Paltrinieri Diagnosed with Mononucleosis, Tokyo Status Unknown

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

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Italian distance star Gregorio Paltrinieri has contracted mononucleosis, which casts doubt on his status for the Tokyo Olympics.

Paltrinieri is experiencing minor systems, according to the Italian Swimming Federation, but the virus is notoriously sapping, particularly for an aerobic challenge like distance freestyle. Paltrinieri is among the medal contenders in the men’s 800 free, 1,500 free and 10K open-water swim.

“We’re obviously upset because his Olympic preparations were proceeding perfectly,” Italian Swimming Federation president Paolo Barelli said Wednesday. “But Paltrinieri is a phenomenal champion and will battle down to the last meter to win the medals he’s dreaming about for Tokyo.”

Paltrinieri is the reigning Olympic champion in the 1,500. He’s won two World Championships in the event and is the reigning world champ in the 800 free, among eight career Worlds medals. Tokyo will be the 26-year-old’s third Olympics.

At the European Championships in May, he won the 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer swims to go with silvers in the 800 and 1,500 free (both behind Ukraine’s Mykhalio Romanchuk).

Paltrinieri will not swim in this weekend’s Seven Hills meet in Rome.

“He’s never given up on anything and with his determination he’s won everything,” Barelli said. “I’m confident that he’ll pull through this time too. He’s facing one of the toughest challenges of his career.”

Questions over the status of Paltrinieri further open the door in the distance events, couple with the suspension to Sun Yang being upheld. Paltrinieri has threatened Sun’s world record in the 1,500, and he has the opportunity to swim both the 1,500 and the 800 at the Olympics for the first time.

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