Swimmer Federica Pellegrini foresees a great opportunity for Italy as Naples prepares to host the 2019 Summer Universiade.
The 200m freestyle specialist competed in the 2007 Summer Universiade in Bangkok, where she claimed two gold medals and a silver.
"It was a wonderful experience," she said.
"It is a bit different from other events and over the years, it is growing more and more.
"The importance of such a large sporting event being brought to Italy is relevant for the whole territory, for new generations."
Pellegrini, who won 200m freestyle gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said the Universiade held a special place in her heart.
She said: "I wish all the best to the athletes who participate.
"It is an important event and above all, because this year it's at home.
"I hope you assert yourself and don't make me look bad!"
Pellegrini was speaking at Caserta Swimming Stadium in Naples, which will host the water polo tournament in July.
She was joined by compatriat Luca Dotto,
Dotto, who won five world and 15 European freestyle titles in a career spanning 15 years, says enthusiasm for the event is 'skyrocketing'.
He added: "I really hope that as many people as possible can participate and see the great competitions that will be held in these facilities.
"The important thing is to give your maximum and to have fun.
"Make many friends and new acquaintances, as this is what the Universiade is about."
The Summer Universiade will take place in Naples from July 3 to July 14.