Who Is Vanessa Ferrari? Rio Could Be This Gymnast's Chance To Earn A Medal For Italy

Considering the fierce competition of the Olympic Games (it's a gathering of the best athletes in the world, after all), falling just short of earning a medal has to be tough. Even worse would be tying for third, then losing the tiebreaker. At the 2012 London Olympics, Italian gymnast Vanessa Ferrari experienced that specific setback. On the floor final, it came down to her and Russian Aliya Mustafina to battle it out for the bronze medal. In the end, Ferrari was defeated in the tiebreaker, which was settled by the gymnasts' execution scores. Mustafina's was 0.300 points higher. Ferrari went home with a decent placing among a group of top gymnasts, but not a medal.

Fortunately, when it comes to the Olympics, second chances are possible. In Rio, Ferrari returns for another shot to claim a medal at the floor exercise. She certainly has a chance to do so after placing third in the floor qualifications behind Simone Biles and Aly Raisman. And with Mustafina not competing in the floor exercise this year, Ferrari's chances look even better. The final on Aug. 16 will be an opportunity for Ferrari to win for Italy and show the world that she's at the top of her game.

A true gymnastics veteran, Ferrari's career took off at the 2006 World Championships when she became the first Italian gymnast to win the all-around competition. At the time, her coach's nickname for her was "The Cannibal" because of her tenacity. Since then, she's won two gold medals at the 2007 European Championships (in all-around and floor), competed in two Olympics, and placed sixth for all-around in the 2013 World Championships.

Another incredible fact about the hardcore athlete is that she joined the Italian Army in 2009. If that doesn't prove how tough she is, I don't know what will. She told International Gymnast Magazine that many athletes in Italy join the Army, Navy, or Air Force, which gives them support and provides a career after they stop pursuing athletics. Ferrari also has a signature move, a tour jete with half turn in a split ring position.

As NBC pointed out, Italy hasn't won a women's gymnastics medal since 1928. With the odds stacked in her favor, maybe this will be the year that the 25-year-old gymnast can redeem her near-loss four years ago and bring home a prize at last.