An 18-year-old Italian volleyball star of Nigerian origin 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, April 13, at her hotel in Istanbul, Turkey, following her team’s loss.
According to Mail Onlne, Ituma fell 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.
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.
Reports from CNN Turk said Ituma was found motionless on the ground outside the Valley Hotel at around 5.30 am on 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 started playing volleyball at the age of 11.
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.
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.