Spain, Home of Champions

Míriam Blasco and Almudena Muñoz (judo); Theresa Zabell, Patricia Guerra and Natalia Via Dufresne (sailing); Carolina Pascual (rhythmic gymnastics); Arantxa Sánchez Vicario and Conchita Martínez (tennis); and the Spain women´s national hockey team: these are the women who, in that magic summer of 1992 in Barcelona, won the first 8 medals in Spain´s Olympic history. Before that edition of the Olympic Games, Spanish sportswomen had not been able to step on the podium. Ever since then, they haven´t missed it.

If we take the recent history of Spain, it is no surprise that Spanish women did not reach such a big dream earlier. Franco’s dictatorship was an obstacle for everyone’s socioeconomic development in the country, but especially for women. They could not even open a bank account without the authorization of their fathers or their husbands until the transition to democracy (late 1970’s to early 1980’s), so it is not difficult to understand why Spanish sportswomen did not succeed until years after the dictator’s death.

20 years after Barcelona, in London 2012, Spanish sportswomen showed the world what they are capable of. Despite receiving less support and attention than Spanish sportsmen, not only did they win 11 medals (3 more than in Barcelona), but they won more medals than the men (only 6) for the first time. Marina Alabau, Tamara Echegoyen, Ángela Pumariega and Sofía Toro (sailing); Mireia Belmonte (swimming); Brigitte Yagüe (taekwondo); Maialen Chourraut (canoe slalom); Maider Unda (wrestling freestyle); and the Spain women´s national waterpolo, handball and synchronised swimming teams achieved the biggest success in the history of women´s sport in Spain.

Fortunately, this tendency did not stop there, and Spanish sportswomen have kept excelling at international competitions such as the following from 2014:

National handball team: 2nd place at the world championship.

National futsal team: 3rd place at the world championship.

National waterpolo team: European champion (world champion in 2013).

National rhythmic gymnastics team: European champion.

National basketball team: 2nd place at the world championship.

National synchronised swimming team: 2nd place at the European championship.

Mireia Belmonte: world champion (swimming).

Carolina Marín: world champion (badminton).

Ruth Beitia: European champion (high jump).

Lidia Valentín: European champion (weightlifting).

In both team and individual sports –some of them, like badminton or weightlifting, still minority sports– Spanish sportswomen are showing their intention to fight for the gold medal in Rio 2016.


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