ROME -- Six-time Olympic fencing champion Valentina Vezzali has announced she is running on Italian Premier Mario Monti's ticket in the national elections next month.
While insisting she will continue competing through to the 2016 Rio Olympics, Vezzali says she's joining Monti's team as a candidate for parliament because she "really believes he can do something to improve Italy's current state."
Vezzali met Monti for the first time in April when the premier presided over an awards ceremony at the Italian Olympic Committee.
The 38-year-old Vezzali has three individual golds and three team titles at five Olympics, winning nine medals overall. She is pregnant with her second child.
Monti says that "to show Italy can win you need to rely on people that win."
Elections are scheduled for Feb. 24-25.