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Members of the Athletica Vaticana Cycling Team (Vatican Media)

The Vatican’s cycling team has again taken to competing in an international tournament, following its debut in Wollongong last year. Source: Vatican News.

On September 25, 2022, for the first time in international sports history, an athlete representing the Vatican City State officially participated in a World Championship.

The venue was the World Road Cycling Championships in Wollongong and the athlete was Rien Schuurhuis, husband of Chiara Porro, the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See.

This year, Vatican Cycling – which, as part of Athletica Vaticana, has been recognised by the International Cycling Union since September 2021 – was back in action in Glasgow for the World Cycling Championships, taking place from August 3-13.

Mr Schuurhuis competed on Sunday in the élite test, the most important of the 13 scheduled races.

The Vatican team also competed in the 160-kilometre “Gran Fondo” with Rino Alberto Bellapadrona, who grew up in the Villa Pontificia in Castel Gandolfo; and Marcus Bergmann, Austria’s Ambassador to the Holy See.

The delegation sought to bear witness to the authentic values that are part of the history of cycling, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable people and on social inclusion initiatives.

Among them, Mr Schuurhuis mentioned how the bicycle that he rode during the World Championships “will be auctioned, and the proceeds will be donated to the Santa Marta Pediatric Dispensary, which, in the Vatican, assists 500 poor families with young children”.

Athletica Vaticana was already a protagonist of initiatives that saw the positive values of sports as vehicles through which athletes could promote gestures of solidarity and fraternity.

For example, in 2022 the Vatican delegation in Australia met with the Aboriginal community and embraced some survivors of the Stolen Generations.

“Sport is for everyone,” Mr Schuurhuis said, “and everyone in sport has the same dignity. That is why it is also a way to find paths of unity and peace, recognising the richness of our diversity with a common language that everyone can understand.”


World Cycling Championships: Vatican athletes ‘train in solidarity’ (By Mario Galgano & Edoardo Giribaldi, Vatican News)