Rome - Black Italian athlete Daisy Osakue suffered eye injuries on Sunday night after she was hit by an egg in a drive-by attack she said was "racially" motivated.
The incident comes amid an increase in reports of racially-motivated attacks in Italy as the new populist government - and in particular far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini - push immigration to the forefront of the political agenda.
The 22-year old discus thrower, who was born in Italy to Nigerian parents, was on her way home in the town of Moncalieri, near Turin in the country's north when a car sped towards her and she felt "a very stong blow to the eye."
"I fell to the ground and I felt liquid, I was terrified thinking it might be acid," said Osakue in interviews with different Italian media outlets.
The athlete, who is due to compete in the European Championships starting next week in Berlin, was taken to a hospital in Turin and emerged on Monday sporting a bandage over her left eye.
"I'm OK," she said. "Unfortunately, I have an abrasion and some lesions on my cornea and liquid on my retina, but with rest, drops and cortisone I should be fine.
"This will not stop me participating (in the championships)," said Osakue, who holds the Italian under-23 discus record.
Asked whether the attack was racially motivated Osakue said:
"I don't like to use the racism card, but in this case, it is... I believe they were looking for a person of colour, a woman."
"There are prostitutes working in that area and I think they mistook me for one of them," she said, adding that she believed a prostitute would not have gone to the police following the incident.
"The drivers sped off," she said. "It was an act of pure cowardice,"
Salvini, who took office in June has placed immigration at the heart of his agenda, promising to halt arrivals in Italy and speed up the deportation of illegal immigrants.
Osakue, who has been studying in he United States in recent months said she had to back to find "a different Italy."
"It's sad, you can feel the tension where you are out," she said.
"I have been victim of racism , but only verbally," she said. "But when you move from words to actions, it means things have gone a step further."
According to Italian media the police in Turin are searching for a Fiat which had already been brought to their attention in recent days.
The Five Star Movement which governs the country in coalition with Italy's far-right League party called the attack "unspeakable" in a Twitter message.
They said the perpetrators should "feel ashamed" and expressed their "solidarity with Daisy."
Salvini wished Osakue "a speedy recovery" adding "any aggression must be punished and condemned."
But the hardline minister denied a "racism emergency in Italy" labelling it "nonsense."