Italian volleyball star Julia Ituma dies after fall from Turkey hotel

Top Italian volleyball star, 18, plunges to her death from 6th floor hotel window hours after her team lost semi-final clash in Turkey

  • Julia Ituma was found dead on Thursday morning at her team’s hotel in Istanbul
  • The rising star and ‘next big thing’ in volleyball played for Italian side Igor Novara

An 18-year-old Italian volleyball star has died after falling from the window of her hotel just hours after her team was knocked out of their Champions League semi-final clash.

Julia Ituma was found dead on Thursday morning at her hotel in Istanbul, Turkey, following her team’s loss.

Reports said Ituma had fallen out of the window of her sixth-floor room at the Vally Hotel which she was believed to have been sharing with a fellow teammate. Exact details of the incident have not yet been confirmed.

The rising star and ‘next big thing’ in volleyball had been representing her team Igor Gorgonzola Novara in their second leg knockout clash with Turkish side Eczacibasi Dynavit Istanbul, where she had scored two points despite their loss.

The Italian consulate in Turkey said they were working closely with officials in the country and providing support to Ituma’s family.

Julia Ituma was found dead on Thursday morning at her hotel in Istanbul, Turkey

Julia Ituma is pictured left in the CEV Champions League Women volleyball match between Igor Gorgonzola Novara and Eczacibasi Dynavit Istanbul

Reports from CNN Turk said Ituma was found motionless on the ground outside the Valley Hotel at around 5.30am Thursday morning. Paramedics and emergency responders arrived at the scene a short while later and she was pronounced dead.

Local police confirmed that they have launched an investigation into the incident. Her body has since been sent for forensic examination to determine the cause of the tragic death.

Ituma was born in 2001 in Milan to Nigerian parents and was considered one of the most promising talents in Italian volleyball. She had started playing volleyball at the age of 11, admiring volleyball stars like Robertlandy Simon as she grew up.

This was her first season with Igor Gorgonzola Novara, having transferred from Club Italia three seasons earlier. Ituma had just finished the season with Igor where they finished fifth in the national Serie A1 league.

Last year, Ituma won a gold medal at the European Championship and the European Youth Olympic Festival with the Under-19 Italian national team. Prior to that, she had been a runner-up with the Under-18 side after their 2021 defeat to Russia. 

Igor are scheduled to face Chieri Turin on Sunday, but it assumed that the match will be postponed. 

Speaking to CEV in October last year, Ituma explained how she had developed a real passion for volleyball and realised her potential to become a professional player.

‘I was looking at all the players who were there [Club Italia] – top players, and they were doing something that I too loved, and in which, according to those who understood much more than me, I could get pretty good.

‘I decided to put my heart and soul into it, and I’d say we’ll see how it goes on,’ the young star explained.

Julia Ituma was considered a rising star and the ‘next big thing’ in volleyball before her tragic death

Reports said Ituma and the Igor Gorgonzola Novara team were staying in the Volley Hotel in Istanbul, near to where they had played the previous day at Burhan Felek Sports Hall

In a statement posted on the club’s website, Ituma’s side said: ‘Igor Volley communicates the untimely death of the Italian volleyball player Julia Ituma with deep pain and emotion.

‘The tragedy allegedly occurred in the early hours of the day and the Turkish police are investigating the dynamics of what happened. 

‘Igor Volley all wishes to express their condolences and participation in the pain of Julia’s family and loved ones. The club and all its members, heartbroken by the loss, will keep a respectful silence on the matter.’

Eczacibasi, the team Ituma had faced yesterday, also released a statement: ‘Our club and players are deeply saddened by the tragic news of Igor Gorgonzola player Julia Ituma’s sudden passing. We send our condolences to our beloved Julia’s family, Novara family and the volleyball community. Rest in peace Julia.’

Former national team coach Mauro Berruto responded to the heartbreaking news on Twitter. He wrote: ‘I am shocked by the tragic passing of Julia Ituma, an eighteen-year-old volleyball player from Igor Novara. My embrace to the family, to the club, to the entire large community of Italian volleyball.

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