Michele Grieco

The freedom to be me

"My name is Michele Grieco. I was born in 1990, and I began my sporting career on the road bike in a rather unusual way".  

It was 2017 when Michele, at 27 years old, had to retrain the muscles in his left leg, which were at risk of atrophy and causing pain. So, he put aside his electric guitar, to which he had dedicated the last 14 years of his life, after an osteosarcoma in his leg that required treatment and a prosthetic limb, and met with Alex Zanardi.  


There is always a second chance... whatever happens 

"I can't do something just because it needs to be done. So I said to myself, ok, if I have to train, let's do it seriously". 

Alex Zanardi completed an Ironman Triathlon and broke all the records. The disciplines were swimming, cycling and running, and Michele decided to try it. He couldn't run, only walk; he was pretty good at swimming; but on a bike he could really knock it out of the park. Zanardi was the first to notice, and invited him to join Obiettivo 3. Michele began to train and win. His fixation on the Ironman stayed with him, and some years later he would manage that, too. 

"I started cycling 6 days a week for a year, and then I started to take part in paralympic races". The paralympic world is hard, because there is no filtering of the top athletes. There is less competition. As there are not many competitors, if you win, you climb the rankings fast. "I was 28 when I did my first race, and I came fourth. The age of paralympic athletes is higher. Ailments happen to you further on in life... Winning medals is great, but sport changes how you look at your life".  

Michele Grieco, a paralympic cyclist from Trentino

There is always another side to the medal

Sport, and cycling, transformed his life. "Sport helped me discover the strength we all have inside us. We humans have an incredible amount of strength that we don't use. Sport teaches you that, with technique and consistency, you can achieve incredible things. Sport forces you to keep repeating actions until they get better. It is easy to learn this through sport, because you just have to do it. And then you become like that too. Better". 

Most importantly, cycling gave him freedom. On his bike, Michele can ride at speeds he had never reached before, conquer high altitudes, feel the wind on his face. "On my bike I can do what I would never be able to do in any other way. This is my freedom". 


200 days of training are worth more than 1 day of racing 

What counts is not crossing the finish line, but building towards that goal. "Because building towards the goal depends only on me. In a race, what depends on me is how much training I have done, how I have eaten, whether I have committed myself. Then there are a lot of other factors that influence my defeat or victory, which I cannot control. The weather, the bends in the road, the other champions, ...".  

"We are lucky in Trentino, because we have so many places to train. And then we have local organisations, people, companies that help us. There aren't many of us - everybody knows everybody - and I have always found open arms. We have signs and asphalt. Sometimes we take for granted many things we don't see". 

Michele Grieco, a paralympic cyclist from Trentino

It is wonderful to spend your life on a bike, travelling

Michele clocks up miles and miles. Every ride starts from his home. His favourite places? Valsugana, with its steep climbs. Passo Redebus, Lago di Santa Colomba when it is cold, Tenna, the Menador, Val di Sella, the Manghen, the Passo Brocon. In Trento, the Bondone, which is demanding..., and then Pressano, San Michele, Vallagarina, Lago di Cei. And a big dream. A solo trip from New York to San Francisco: just him, his bike and his freedom. 

His recommendations for cycling safely: 

  • bring a water bottle, and to avoid unnecessary weight, map out where there are water fountains before setting off. Trentino is full of water fountains... 

  • a bike repair kit for emergencies 

  • a raincoat. The weather changes fast at a high altitude. 

  • front and back lights. Despite their weight and appearance, these can save your life 

  • always wear a helmet, which will also make you more aerodynamic 

  • especially in winter, bright coloured or fluorescent tops 

  • food? In Trentino, Michele stops at mountain huts, and he has some recommendations. Walnut cake at Passo Sommo, blueberry cake at Passo Brocon, etc... 

Michele Grieco, a paralympic cyclist from Trentino

Obiettivo 3

Michele doesn't remember much of his life before 12 years old, of his illness. After the operation, he tried to hide his prosthetic leg, and suffered. Today, he knows that his prosthetic leg was an opportunity. "Now I have understood that I wouldn't want a life without my prosthetic leg, most of all from a mental point of view. I have trained my mind thanks to the events that happened to me after the illness. I could never even have imagined being able to find the happiness I have found in sport. I used to hide who I was". 

With Obiettivo 3, I am trying to give back everything I have received. Because a second chance at life is possible for everyone. Until the '90s, disability was something that applied to the individual. You have a prosthetic limb, you are disabled. But instead, if we think about it, "disability is created by the situation. This is the foundation of everything. With a normal bike, I can't ride, because my leg doesn't bend more than 90°. But if I change my bike, I am just like everyone else". This is what happened with the Ironman Triathlon Michele managed to win, by changing the rules and the team: he cycled, his teammate ran, and another swam. 

"If we shift our vision of disability from the person to the situation, we can resolve all disabilities". 

Legendary climbs

Legendary climbs

Published on 01/07/2024