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Olympics in history: Spain's 121-year career, before and after Barcelona
02 August 2021 @ 18:27

KNOWN for its late surges but rarely near the top, often standing out in minority disciplines, Spain has generally been successful enough in Olympic Games to be proud of itself but in a discreet, behind-the-scenes fashion, and this year is no exception.

Barcelona 1992, the opening ceremony

The stories behind the nation's medals and diplomas often unmask far greater achievements than their colours seem to bear out – as has certainly been the case with its first two bronzes, David Valero's starting out nearly last in mountain-biking and then steaming ahead to take a very hard-fought third place, and Pablo Carreño's knocking out world tennis number one Novak Djoković enabling him to squeeze onto the podium – or, in past Games, weightlifter Lydia Valentín being justly pleased with herself for getting a fourth, fifth and a bronze in three consecutive Olympics only to find out up to a decade later that she actually had a medal in each colour after those who had seemingly beaten her to it at the time were disqualified for doping.

Now, in the 32nd Olympic Games of the modern era and the 29th to actually be held – after Berlin 1916, Helsinki 1940 and London 1944 were cancelled due to the World Wars – and the only one to have been shelved in peacetime, at Tokyo 2020, taking place in 2021, Spain currently ranks a modest 24th in the medal count with one gold, three silvers and three bronzes; not a shameful result, though, given that 76 nations currently feature, with the five jointly at number 72 with one bronze each being Argentina, Côte d'Ivoire (formerly also known by its English translation of Ivory Coast), Finland, Kuwait and Malaysia.

Spain currently has the second-largest medal collection of all Spanish-speaking countries in the modern-era history of the Games, after Cuba.

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