Andrea Pusateri believes “impossible is just an opinion”—and he’s doing all he can to prove that’s true.
It’s a remarkable outlook considering the challenges the Italian athlete has faced throughout his life. In 1997, when Pusateri was just four years old, he fell onto the train tracks at Monza station—as a train sped toward him. His mother rescued him, but tragically died in the process, giving her life to save his.
On that fateful day, he lost both his mother and his right leg.
But Pusateri found ways to persevere. Sports helped give him purpose, and cycling made him a champion. In 2008, he became a Paralympic athlete in cycling, and went on to succeed in both national and international competitions.
In 2015, he faced another brush with death. While training in Como, Pusateri suffered a serious cycling injury. He was airlifted to a hospital, where he spent seven days in a medically induced coma. He survived and—undeterred—won gold at the World Cup in Maniago only three months later.
Now the 28-year-old athlete has nine Italian titles, achieved several podiums at World Cup events, and is preparing for his next challenge: The Ironman Cervia in Italy, a grueling competition that includes swimming 1.5 km, cycling 40 km, and running 10 km.
“I love challenges. It always motivates me to have new goals to achieve,” he told The Dog People. “I like the work behind the races, the training and above all, the constant desire to challenge myself and overcome my limits.”
Family and friends have been his greatest support—“The family has always supported me in any of my craziness and gives me that extra energy to face everything”—as well as his dogs, Maya and Sally.
Since he was small, Pusateri wanted a dog of his own, and a couple of years ago, that dream came true. First he welcomed home Maya, a Golden Retriever.
A few months later, he expanded his pack to include Sally, a Bernese Mountain Dog.
“They have an important role in my life. It is a special bond,” he said. “Since they are here, my life got better.”
The two dogs have distinct personalities. Maya, 2 years old, is more independent and playful. Sally, 1 ½ years old, is his “shadow,” sticking close. She can be shy and wary, but loves being cuddled.
Pusateri’s fans on Instagram love seeing photos and videos of Maya and Sally hiking with Pusateri in gorgeous locations. Their trusting bond is so strong that the dogs sometimes take turns walking between his braces—where his right leg used to be.
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“With them I like doing long walks and discovering new places. They come along for every adventure and journey of mine,” he said. “Sometimes I just need wags or a look from them to recover from a difficult day.”
What he loves about his dogs is also what he loves about dogs in general: their unconditional love.
“The love that you receive from animals is incredible, and dogs are magnificent companions for life,” he said.
That love should provide a boost as he strives to achieve even more and to live life to the fullest.
“My goals for the future are to live 101 percent in the present, and be happy and at peace with my family and my dogs at my side, traveling and discovering new places and always looking for challenges,” he said.
As for Pusateri’s fervent belief that “impossible is just an opinion”?
“The limits are only in our heads. We can all achieve our goals. The important thing is to want it—to always try without setting limits,” he advised.
He hopes his story inspires others to believe in ourselves. He says each one of us is unique and special, and we should never let anyone tell us that we can’t do something.
Pusateri said the more we avoid doing something, the bigger the fear of doing it becomes, so we should face those fears and try.
“There will always be some unexpected events both in sport and in life,” he said. “We must not be discouraged and always go forward.”
Andrea Pusateri competes in the Ironman Cervia on September 18, 2021. Follow him on Instagram at: instagram.com/pusateriandrea