Valerio Cleri wants it badly. He dreams it. He can taste it. He can see it.

His goal? To see the Italian flag waving during the Olympic awards ceremony after the Olympic Marathon Swimming 10km.

The former world 10 km and 25 km champion is on a mission, especially after placing fourth in the first Olympic 10km Marathon Swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Finishing just outside a medal position is always disappointing. But Cleri took his disappointment and trained with a vengence 12 sessions per week 12 months per year for last 4 years. He is ready.

Cleri’s time has come and he is in an excellent position to capture a medal. Firstly, because the pace is expected to be fast, Cleri is well-prepared to swim 10,000 meters faster than he has ever swum in his life. Secondly, he is like a bulldozer. Built solidly, Cleri can hold his position in a pack and force his way in a tight pack. Physicality is never an issue for the Italian stallion.

He is a man of few words, but he divulged a bit of his training habits:

Daily News: Do you train full time and where?
Cleri: Yes, swimming is what I do. I always train in the pool from Monday to Saturday, 12 sessions each week doing 10 sessions of 10 km in about 2 hours 20 minutes [of interval training] for a weekly total of 120 km.

Daily News: Do you primarily swim pool or do you train open water too?
Cleri: I am constantly in the pool during the week throughout the year, but from May onwards I do about two open water races per month. I use these races as training opportunities.

Daily News: What was your toughest workout and why?
Cleri: Every intensive training session of 20 km is difficult. It is the most difficult because it is so long where we must stay focused for a long time.

Daily News: Can you explain the meaning of your tattoos?
Cleri: I have the 5 Olympic rings tattooed under his arm. I did it for my second Olympics when I qualified. It was more painful.

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