Miguel Indurain. Rafael Nadal. Soccer star after soccer star after soccer star.
Sergio Garcia added to Spain’s rich (recent) sporting history with his long-awaited first major title at the Masters on Sunday.
Spain sports daily Marca ranked Garcia’s Masters win the No. 92 moment in Spanish sports history.
Nos. 1-3 were Spain winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Spanish men’s basketball team winning the 2006 FIBA World Championship and Nadal’s epic 2008 Wimbledon win over Roger Federer.
Garcia certainly makes the list of Spain’s greatest Olympians, too. He tied for eighth in Rio at the first Olympic golf tournament since 1904. (Golf’s longtime absence from the Olympics meant Garcia’s Spanish idol, five-time major winner Seve Ballesteros, never got a chance to play at the Games)
Garcia would likely have to return for Tokyo 2020 — and at the very least earn a medal — to challenge the accomplishments of those in other sports named above.
The cyclist Indurain won seven Grand Tour titles, including five Tours de France, and a 1996 Olympic time trial gold medal. Alberto Contador also owns seven Grand Tour titles, with at least two titles from all three Grand Tours, but has only finished one Olympic race — fourth in the 2008 time trial.
Nadal is at 14 Grand Slam singles titles, plus that 2008 Olympic singles gold medal.
Like Garcia, some of Spain’s soccer legends never won Olympic gold — 2010 World Cup winners Iker Casillas and Andres Iniesta among them (Casillas and Iniesta never played in the Olympics, as soccer is largely an under-23 affair at the Games). Xavi and Carles Puyol were on the 2000 Olympic silver-medal-winning team.
Pau Gasol led that 2006 World Cup-winning team revered on Marca‘s list. That roster received the good fortune of the U.S. being upset by Greece in the opposite semifinal. Still, Gasol is a three-time Olympic medalist who has been among the most loyal NBA stars to his national team.
Not to be forgotten is sprint canoeist David Cal, who owns a Spanish record five Olympic medals combined from 2004, 2008 and 2012.
One more athlete that deserves mention is a Winter Olympian. Figure skater Javier Fernandez won the 2015 and 2016 World titles and next year could win Spain’s first Winter Olympic medal since 1992.
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