13 jul 2012

Spain and Madrid at the 2012 Olympic Games

Madrid's logo for the 2020 Olympics
The Olympics mean a lot to Madrid. Having lost out to London with the 2012 bid, we picked ourselves up and went again for 2016, which we lost. But you have to admire the tenacity of the Madrileños; even that loss couldn’t keep us down for long, and the Spanish capital regrouped and put together a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games. These we have not yet lost – Madrid are among the final three with Tokyo and Istanbul – and it is surely our turn next. 
Not only has Madrid been coveting the Olympic Games for some considerable time (a seemingly one-way relationship) but substantial preparations have even started, and in some cases finished, in the city, for what seems to be an inevitability. Take, for example, the Olympic stadium (Estadio Olimpico de la Peineta) which, complete with its own metro stop, only needs the finishing touches added to the track in order to be ready. I guess you could say it’s on standby, just in case.

Still on riding high on the ecstasy of yet more footballing glory, there’s a definite air of optimism and even expectation among the fair Madrid citizenship. This summer London will have all the big names: perhaps we will see Michael Phelps continue to shatter all Olympic records, or Usain Bolt jog to another “easy” gold medal. But preferably, it would be athletes of the Spanish variety that steal the show, and there’s no reason to doubt.

Rafael Nadal with his gold medal in Beijing
Perhaps one of Spain’s best hopes for gold, Rafael Nadal, will be leading his country out and performing the role of flag bearer in London. He won the tennis gold medal at the 2008 olympics in Beijing, and with a strong team including world no. 5 David Ferrer and Madrid’s own Fernando Verdasco (world no. 16), there’s every chance of more Spanish glory on the court.

Team sports seem to remain Spain’s forte though, their football team full of talented youth and this year including some Euro 2012 medal winners such as Juan Mata, and Jordi Alba, along with the Atlético Madrid trio of Joel Robles, Koke and Adrian Lopez.

Also worth considerable mention is the promising Spanish Basketball team (nicknamed the ÑBA) which can count on the 7 foot giant NBA player Marc Gasol (and his brother Pau) to improve their Olympic medal chances. Spain are still hurting from their close loss to the USA in the basketball final at the Beijing Olympics (the score being 118-107), and will be happy to improve upon their silver medal in London.

Spain’s best medal haul was on home soil back in 1992 when Barcelona hosted the Olympic games; they managed to rake in 22 medals. This feat could perhaps be bettered again on home soil, if their Madrid 2020 bid is successful; it competes with Istanbul and Tokyo for the privilege of hosting the games.

Spain won two medals in sailing at the 2008 Olympics

With a fair medal tally of 18 four years ago in Beijing, Spain were ranked 15th overall, and with some strong performances in areas such as sailing and cycling, there’s every chance they can go one better than Summer 2008, especially with such promising athletes in the more conventional Olympic sports.

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