Debiasi and Cagnotto, a dip in the history of the region

24 medals for two, 14 for Kaus and 10 for Cagnotto. Behind these medals, a long history of rivalry and friendship

Klaus Dibiasi and Giorgio Cagnotto – Photo: Daniele Paternoster.

Journalist Stefano Arcobelli presented two Italian diving legends, Giorgio Cagnotto and Klaus Debiasi.
The story of these two great champions begins when Italy counted more in diving than in swimming and stopped whenever these two myths were at work.
24 medals for two, 14 for Kaus and 10 for Cagnotto. Behind these medals, a long history of rivalry and friendship.

The two protagonists of this long history that has lasted for 75 years, have in common, first of all the passion, born from a family tradition for diving: Debiasi’s father was an Olympic athlete, Cagnotto’s uncle participated in the Europeans.
Distant times, different times. The dives themselves were different, considered more of an exhibition than a sport.
The perception then changed when Klaus Debiasi and Giorgio Cagnotto arrived on the scene, two talents capable of attracting, in terms of skills and styles. Together, a lucky duo.

Different characters that affected their respective performances, but benefited from the approach to each race, even the simplest one which, with their presence, became of a high level, because one had to beat the other.
A technical rivalry that enhanced their respective qualities, giving life to a constructive and spectacular relationship, where one not only tried to prepare better than the other but also to specialize in something new and different to make a difference.
This is how the two champions, stimulating each other, grew up, each in their own specialty: one from the platform, the other from the springboard.

Klaus: «Without Giorgio I would not have become the Debiasi that I am».
Giorgio: «Klaus was like the Beatles in music, nothing was like before».
Debiasi, forerunner in the triple, was the first to enter the water without splashing. Everyone was waiting for that moment that became poetry in the athletic act.
This is how diving has changed and even today, in the most important competitions, one can appreciate the technique of entry into the water of Debiasi refined by the Chinese.
But the real story began when Klaus Debiasi, the brown-haired “blonde angel”, showed up at the Tokyo Games at the age of 17, kicking off the “Big Bang” of Italian dives.

In 1972, in Munich, the two athletes fulfilled the dream of getting on the Olympic podium together.
They wore an “anonymous” suit, made by a tailor in Rome, without any logo but only with the words “Italia Tuffi”.
Distant times, different times: the FIN did not allow advertising, the prizes were very scarce and to take home a medal you worked for free.
“We created emotions because we had fun and we didn’t have much pressure.”


In 1976, it was the last Olympics for Debiasis who made a hat-trick after Mexico City and Monaco.
Cagnotto continued his career and participated in 1980 in Moscow after winning the European Cup.
A bronze medal that could have been silver were it not for a questionable choice of the jury that damaged it.
But there is no room for regret, because the legacy that both champions are called to leave is truly enormous.

For Giorgio there is his daughter Tania: «it has extended my career as well as giving stimuli and emotions to my heart».
Klaus now covers countless institutional roles that gratify him and allow him to be still a great example for future champions: “in the Federation we work to create a movement, rather than individual personalities”.
Then “the Italian school” was born. Times have changed but it is always the passion that never dies.

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Debiasi and Cagnotto, a dip in the history of the region