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MotoGP riders meet the Pope at Vatican

MotoGP riders with Pope Francis

Misano, September 6: Ahead of the San Marino GP, MotoGP riders took time off and went to Rome and then the Vatican for a very special pre-event -- a private reception with Pope Francis.

World champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), team-mate Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing), team-mate Jack Miller, Paolo Simoncelli, father of the late MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli, were joined by Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta during the visit.

The event was held in conjunction with the National Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) and with the support of the Italian Motorcycling Federation.

The Pope spoke, affirming the importance of sport in many different ways.

"Sport, respecting the rules, is an important way to learn - especially for young generations. Or rather, it's irreplaceable. Sport promotes a healthy way to overcome the self and selfishness, train the spirit and promote loyalty in personal relationships, friendship, respect for the rules."

Aside from the personal side of what we can learn from sport, the Pope also spoke of the ability of sport to unite people across boundaries.

"Sport is expressed in universal language that transcends confinement, language, race, religion and ideology. That's seen most often in amateur sport, when it comes from the heart. Therefore, it has the intrinsic capacity to unite people, fostering dialogue and welcoming. I encourage you to spread the values of sport: in that way you will contribute to creating a fairer and more supportive society."

Words of guidance

Words of guidance

In addition, there were some words of guidance for those present - with the Pope adding some of his thoughts to the words of CONI chief Giovanni Malago, who had spoken of passion and being a champion in life as well as in sport.

"Let passion take you over. This world needs passion and passions. Live with passion and not as someone who carries life as though it's a burden. Passion is walking forward. 'Champion in life'. Yes, you can become a champion in sporting successes, in a team, whatever it is, but a champion in life is someone who lives with passion, to the full, and is capable of living that way."

Different experience

Different experience

Marquez sounded very excited after meeting the Pope and he summed up his feeling pretty aptly

"It was a great experience in a different kind of suit! I think once in your life it's good to meet him if you have the opportunity. It was so nice, we spoke and we were able to meet him but also talk to him. It was a pleasure to be here. What he said was great, in terms of understanding and motivation - he said you need passion in life and a goal, and if you follow that passion you can achieve a lot."

Special and unique

Special and unique

For Marquez's team-mate Pedrosa, it was a special and unique opportunity meeting the Pope.

"It was very special and a unique opportunity to meet the Pope and be able to share a few words - for me and for the other riders. We do an extreme sport and there's a lot of risk so it's always important to feel good. This event is something special and I'm glad to be here."

Sight seeing

Sight seeing

The riders were also then taken round some of the sights in the stunning city.

Pedrosa, Miller, Marquez and Petrucci were happy clicking pictures with a member of the Pontifical Swiss Guard as the riders also posed with their helmets before the reception.

The San Marino GP will be held on Sunday (September 9) at the Misano Marco Simoncelli World Circuit at 2pm local time (5.30pm IST). The track action will begin on Friday (September 7).

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Story first published: Thursday, September 6, 2018, 11:43 [IST]
Other articles published on Sep 6, 2018
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