By Amina Nazarli
San Marino Olympic officials awarded three wild cards to athletes for the Baku 2015 European Games.
The San Marino delegation granted three Baku 2015 wild cards to judoka Karim Gharbi and Jessica Zannoni as well as Table Tennis player Letizia Giardi with the goal of supporting the trio to its possible qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Gharbi won the 100kg gold medal at the 2013 Games of the Small States in Luxembourg. The 23-year-old athlete also won the Malta International Open in March 2012.
The 30-year-old Zannoni captured 70kg silver at the 1999 and 2001 Games of the Small States and 63kg silver at the 2003 Games of the Small States. In November 2014, Zannoni finished third in the Italian Championships at 78kg.
Giardi has played this season on the ITTF Cadet Circuit and was one of three San Marino players who qualified for the Italian Championship.
San Marino Chef de Mission Mr. Federico Valentini was recently in Baku with representatives from 21 other National Olympic Committees for an NOC Open Day. The program offered updates on the latest preparations with presentations, workshops, analyses of sports programs and other activities.
"I must say that the organization of Azerbaijan amazed me. I think we will arrive at the European Games with all the facilities ready and organization on time," Valentini said on the San Marino NOC website, adding "We got to see the amenities for the athletes and coaches. And I return from Baku very happy and satisfied for what will be a challenging summer. "
The inaugural sporting event will open in the newly-built brand Olympic Stadium in Baku on June 12. Through 17 days of competition, over 6,000 sportsmen will represent 50 countries in 20 sports.