Wednesday, June 29

Craviotto and Belmonte, with the illusion for their flag

  • “Being a flag bearer is the pinnacle. In these last hours you feel a mixture of joy and nerves “, says the paddler

  • “It is a pride to be the third woman in the history of the Summer Games to carry the flag,” says the swimmer.

A sign of the new times in Olympism can be seen in the Tokyo opening ceremony. In one more step to strengthen gender parity, the LOOK He launched the idea of ​​a male and a female athlete being the flag bearers and the National Committees quickly picked up the glove.

It was not easy to choose the people who would take over from Rafael Nadal, the standard bearer in the Rio Games. It was by vote of its board of directors that the canoeist was chosen Saul Craviotto and the swimmer Mireia Belmonte. “To be a flag bearer is the pinnacle, it is to reach the top of the Olympism. And something very nice to be able to represent your country. In these last hours you feel a mixture of joy and nerves. I am looking forward to living that moment and it will be the most beautiful moment of my sports career, “he explained. Craviotto this Thursday in the previous hours. Belmonte furthermore, she vindicates her status as a woman. “It is a pride, even more so, being the third woman in the history of the Summer Games to carry this flag,” says the swimmer from Badalona.

The merits of both are enormous. The 36-year-old canoeist from Lleida has four Olympic medals (two golds, in Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016, one silver in London 2012 and one bronze in Rio) and the possibility, at his fingertips, to equal all five medals of David Cal, as the most successful Spanish athlete in some Games, or even overcome them if, finally, he enrolls in the individual event.

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Accountable challenge

The possibilities of Craviotto they are tall. The medal that will attack on August 7 with the K4, along with Carlos Arévalo, Rodrigo Germade and Marcus Cooper, It is taken for granted because this boat has not gone out of its way throughout the Olympic cycle, and the victory against Germany, surely its greatest rival, in the World Cup held last May, shows that they are on the right track. “It was a great victory but you have to put your feet on the ground. It is useless to win there and then it goes wrong “, clarifies the Spanish paddler, who is focused on Kyotango, a city 800 kilometers from the capital, Tokyo, which will force him to a hard round trip to fulfill his role as flag bearer, although luckily he will not compete until the second week.

Also the record of Mireia Belmonte, 30 years old, is dazzling. His four medals (silver in 200 butterfly and 800 free in London 2012 and gold in 200 butterfly and bronze in 400 styles in River), make her one of the best athletes in Spanish sport. But his challenge of seeking a fifth medal in Tokyo will be much more difficult. Injuries have haunted her in the last two years and have forced her to drop out of many international competitions, such as the last European Championship in Budapest. In the Japanese capital he will not be able to defend, for example, the gold of the 200 butterfly, his queen test.

The swimmer from Badalona achieved a place in the two long-distance events; The 800 and 1,500 meters, which were already held in the World Cups but made their debut on the Olympic calendar, two events that the new queen of swimming dominates in a tyrannical way Katie ledecky. In fact, his last major competition dates back to the Gwanju World Cup in 2019, where he already played those two tests. That will also be his goal in Tokyo, where he will start this Sunday with the 400 styles qualifiers, just 24 hours after participating in the opening ceremony. “We will have to try to stay as long as possible to be well the next day,” he admits, having little information about the ceremony, although he knows that Craviotto and he will share a flag. “I am looking forward to it, because even if there are no people and it is a different ceremony, it will be very special.”

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In case of Belmonte and Craviotto it will not be the only one. The large delegations have opted for the two standard bearers. Tokyo will be a turning point in history. Japan, USA, Australia or France are some of the countries that have chosen to designate two athletes for the ceremony. The basketball player Sue bird and the baseball player Eddie alvarez they will carry the US flag. The swimmer Cate campbell and the basketball player, Patty Mills, that of Australia; the judoka Clarisse Agbegnenoa and the gymnast Samir Ait said, that of France; and the fighter Yui susaki and the NBA player, Rui hachimura, those of the host country, Japan, that will close the parade.

Flag bearers of Spain at the Summer Games

Antwerp 1920: Javier Bartrina Costa (doctor and secretary of the COE), although the COE attributes the position to Mariano Arrate Esnaola (football), who was actually the one who carried the Spanish poster at the inauguration.

Paris 1924: Félix Mendizábal (athletics).

Amsterdam 1928: Diego Ordóñez (athletics)

London 1948: Fabián Vicente del Valle (boxing)

Helsinki 1952: Luis Omedes (Rowing)

Rome 1960: Jaime Belenguer (gymnastics)

Tokyo 1964: Eduardo Dualde (hockey)

Mexico 1968: Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba (sailing)

Munich 1972: Francisco Fernández Ochoa (skiing)

Montreal 1976: Enrique Rodríguez Cal (boxing)

Moscow 1980: Herminio Menéndez (canoeing)

Los Angeles 1984: Alejandro Abascal (sailing)

Seoul 1988: Cristina de Borbón (sailing)

Barcelona 1992: Felipe de Borbón (sailing)

Atlanta 1996: Luis Doreste (sailing)

Sydney 2000: Manuel Estiarte (water polo)

Athens 2004: Isabel Fernández (judo)

Beijing 2008: David Cal (canoeing)

London 2012: Pau Gasol (basketball)

Rio 2016: Rafael Nadal (tennis)

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