Modern facilities, enchanting scenery and a mild climate throughout the year create perfect training conditions for athletes. One who benefits from this is Ajla Del Ponte. Fifth at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 in the 100 m, 60 m sprint European indoor champion 2021 and ambassador of the Ascona-Locarno region.The athlete was born in Bignasco in the Maggia Valley, which makes her role as ambassador for the region where she grew up a matter of the heart. “To be an ambassador for this region is a great honour; my goal is to raise its profile in the outside world. It’s one of those places that people should be made aware of.”
She has to work hard to achieve her dreams. Thanks to the excellent facilities, the scenic and natural variety of the region and the Mediterranean ambience of Lake Maggiore, training is a pleasant experience and offers athletes a chance to unwind when they’re not working on their form. Ajla likes to relax by spending time with her family, visiting her grandparents in Bignasco and strolling along the lakeside promenade in Ascona. The region offers all kinds of ways of spending leisure time, including visits to the spa, enjoying a soothing massage and savouring a good meal while watching the sun set over the lake.
Aside from the countless sport and recreational opportunities offered by Ascona-Locarno, Ajla has a soft spot for summer in the region. “Summer’s a wonderful time for visiting the region. It’s when lots of cultural events take place, such as the Moon&Stars and the Locarno Film Festival in Piazza Grande.” Because of her studies in Lausanne and all the competitions she enters, she’s constantly travelling. But when asked what the Ascona-Locarno region means to her, she answers with a gleam in her eye: “The Ascona-Locarno region represents home. I feel good every time I arrive there and I know the sun is shining.”
The fact that athletics is a natural sport – and that training and being outdoors in the region are generally very pleasant – has certainly had a positive influence on the course of her career. Not for nothing is Ticino known as Switzerland’s sunniest canton.
Balancing studies and sport is a major challenge, especially if you want to excel at both. “You have to be highly organised and passionate about both those things.” The word passion finds her appealing to the young generation of athletes. Ajla says that doing something with passion is the key to success. That also applies to Ticino. She hopes that the region will remain as natural as ever and continue to develop positively. “People like coming here because Ticino is the way it is.”