Preview: Football, tennis, gold important as Spain looks to beat Tokyo medal haul-Xinhua

Preview: Football, tennis, gold important as Spain looks to beat Tokyo medal haul

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-07-01 07:42:45

MADRID, June 30 (Xinhua) -- The aim of Spain's team for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris is to get close to the record medal haul from 1992 when Barcelona hosted the Games.

The 13 gold medals, seven silvers and two bronzes from 32 years ago came after strong investment in Spanish sport to ensure a good performance on home soil, but since then, it has been downhill, with just three gold medals, eight silvers and six bronzes won in Tokyo in 2021, as Spain finished 22nd in the medal table.

Although getting close to the highs of Barcelona looks to be difficult, there is a good chance Spain's consistently high level at team sports and some special individuals will see them improve on Tokyo.

Perhaps Spain's best hope for a gold medal is the women's football team, who travel to Paris as World Champions, UEFA Nations League champions and with just two defeats in their last 25 matches - one of which came after already enssuring qualification from the group stage of then 2023 Women's World Cup.

The team led by Aitana Bonmati and Alexia Putellas doesn't have any weaknesses and it would be a major surprise if they didn't win a medal.

The men's football team should also challenge for medals after winning silver in Tokyo, where only Brazil got the better of them. Although coach Santi Denia is slightly hampered by the fact that Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams are unlikely to play after also competing in the European Championships, a side with players such as Barcelona's Pau Cubarsi, powerful forward Samu Omorodion and Valencia defensive regular Cristhian Mosquera should go a long way.

Although they have to get through a qualifying tournament in Valencia at the start of July, the Spanish men's basketball team won the 2019 World Cup and took Olympic silver in 2008, 2012 and bronze four years later in Rio and they can be expected to go close to the medals this time around.

Also expect Spain's men's and women's teams to be in the hunt for medals in sports such as handball and water-polo, with the women's water-polo team aiming to go one better than the silver medal they harvested in Tokyo.

Spain's three gold medals in 2021 came from trap shooting, where Alberto Fernandez and Fatima Galvez are consistently high performers, while Alberto Gines Lopez stunned everyone with his gold in competition climbing. Gines Lopez continues to compete at a high level in what will be a hotly contested event in Paris.

Canoeing has also been a traditionally strong event for the Spanish, with three silver medals in the last Olympic Games.

42-year-old Teresa Portela will be competing at her seventh Olympic Games in sprint Kayak and the winner of 15 medals at Sprint World Championships knows she has one last chance to improve on the silver medal she won in Tokyo.

Maialen Chourraut is another veteran, with the 41-year-old already holding gold, silver and bronze in slalom. The Basque's silver medal in the recent World Championships in Krakov shows she is still one of the favorites for Olympic gold this time around.

Cycling could also offer a medal chance, with Spain able to field a strong team, with riders such as Carlos Rodriguez and Peio Bilbao, capable of a top-10 finish in the road race, although they will find it tough to beat favorites such as Remco Evenepoel, Mathieu van der Poel or Tadej Pogacar.

The Spanish can also look to the athletics events with some optimism, with Diego Garcia, Paul McGrath and Alvaro Martin all medal hopes in the 20km walk, while 2023 World Champion, Maria Perez is aiming to repeat her triumph at the Olympic Games.

Spanish middle distance running is recovering after a lean spell and Adrian Ben and Mohamed Attaoui have options in what looks to be a very open 800 meters, while triple jumpers, Ana Peleteiro and Jordan Diaz travel to Paris after winning in the European Championships, with Cuban-born Diaz leaping a stunning 18 meters and 18 centimeters - the third-best jump of all time.

Tennis also looks like fertile medal territory, with 14 times French Open winner, Rafael Nadal and this year's champion at Roland Garros, Carlos Alcaraz, spearheading the Spanish assault. The fact the tournament is played on their favorite clay surface at the same venue for the French Open is an extra factor in favor of the Spanish, who have clear options in both singles and doubles.

Finally, although gold may not be everyone's idea of an Olympic event, 2023 US Masters winner, John Rahm has to be among the favorites in the golf, and will be highly motivated after failing a COVID-19 test on the eve of his departure to compete in Tokyo.