Tuesday, October 19

The recurrent jet lag of Spanish athletics

Alabama Athletics homeland does not sit well with trips to the Far East. The bottom line in the Tokyo Games and a review of the major competitions held in this part of the world reveals that jet-lag against the sun does not favor results for Spanish athletes each time they advance the clock to compete. The eleven finalists, more than double that in River, sweeten the result but the medal table declines. The gold and silver of Ruth Beitia and Orlando Ortega in Rio has gone to the solitary bronze of Ana Pelteiro in triple jump, although the diploma party invites optimism.

In comparison with the rest of the countries in our social and economic environment, Spain does not measure up in the medal table but is competitive in finalists. Especially when compared to the successful Italy. The five transalpine golds and the four from Poland, second and fourth after the United States, with the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden among the top ten in the medal table, place European athletics at the top, after the problems that the pandemic has caused in the preparation of athletes.

Thirteenth position

The best and most prestigious athletics meetings are held in Europe and it has been noticed. The exception among the large Euro countries is Austria and Spain, both in a discreet thirty-sixth place in the medal table, along with countries such as Burkina Faso and Grenada, the tiny Antillean island of 100,000 inhabitants. The classification changes for the better if the points obtained by the finalists are added, with Spain occupying thirteenth overall position and sixth in European athletics.

The trip to the Orient

From the World Cup held in Tokyo a year before the success achieved in Barcelona-92, the national team, with 59 athletes, returned, as now, with a solitary bronze from the Hispanic American Sandra Mayers in 400. A relative success when compared to the zero in the medal table of Seoul-88, which bottomed out after José Manuel Abascal’s bronze in Los Angeles-84 and Jordi Llopart’s silver in Moscow-80, the first Olympic metal of a Spanish athlete.

María Vasco’s bronze, the first Olympic medal of a Spanish athlete, and 8 finalists in Sydney-2000, saved the trip to the antipodes. After the 20th century, in the 2007 World Cup in Osaka, he improved with the silver of the marcher Paquillo Fernández in 20K, and two bronzes, that of Mayte Martínez in 800 and María Vasco in 20K. The following year at the 2008 Beijing Games, another zero in the medal table, as in Seoul. But progressing adequately, because in the wonderful Bird’s Nest the Spaniards achieved a significant number of finalists, no less than 12, an encouraging result for the following competitions.

It was not so. In the Korean World Cup in Daegu-2011, Natalia Rodriguez took the bronze in 1,500, but with only one more finalist. Also in Beijing, in the 2015 World Cup, Spain obtained a single medal, once again on the march, the gold of Miguel Ángel López in 20K, and ranked 30th in the sum of points by finalists. Far below the results that two years earlier he had obtained in the Moscow world championship, without much time change, with two bronzes and a worthy seventeenth place for finalists.

As an exception, the 2012 Games in London with just three finalists. In the British capital, a couple of hours’ flight from Spanish airports, Ruth Beitia was fourth but subsequently re-qualified as second and Olympic silver after detecting anomalies in the biological passports of two of her rivals.

The Italian example

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The solitary bronze of Ana Peleteiro in Tokyo he does not hide a very low-key performance in pursuit of the podium. It contrasts with the success of our European partners, especially transalpine, whose success rests on an ancient tradition whereby their athletes are promoted through public service. His 40 medals in Tokyo, ten gold, with five titles in athletics alone, attest that his system is more alive than ever.

Of the 383 Italian athletes present at these Games, 270 are military, police, prison officials or firefighters. A similar system protects its runners in Kenya, third country in the athletic medal table after Kipchoge’s success in the marathon. In Spain, the ADO plan and federal aid support the Spanish Olympic sport almost in its entirety, stagnant at 17 medals. Everything indicates that this system needs a generous update.


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