Grief casts shadow over Spanish success at Olympics

22nd August 2008, Comments 0 comments

Spanish athletes’ victories at the Beijing Games were overshadowed by the devastation of Wednesday’s air crash in Madrid.

22 August 2008

BEIJING - It was a bittersweet day for Spanish athletes Thursday, as triumphs on Beijing's pitches and in its waters were overshadowed by the devastation of Wednesday's air crash in Madrid.

In the sailing tornado event, Antón Paz and Fernando Echávarri won the gold medal.

Field hockey's Santi Freixa scored a penalty corner goal with less than two minutes left of play to give Spain a 3-2 victory over Australia and put it in Saturday's final against Germany.

On Friday, Spain will look to reach two more finals when the men's basketball team takes on Lithuania and the handball team battles Iceland. Canoeist David Cal will also try to pad Spain's gold total in the C-1 1000 event on Friday.

When receiving their gold medal for the Tornado (Multihull) event, sailors Echávarri and Paz wore black armbands and dedicated their top prize to the 153 victims of the plane crash.

The pair's gold means that Spain has won four gold medals at the Beijing Games, one more than in Athens in 2004 and in Sydney in 2000. But inside the Olympic Village, and in the country's official headquarters, the Casa de España, there were more downcast eyes then raised glasses.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) denied the Spain's Olympic Committee’s request to observe one minute of silence before Spain's matches. They also did not allow the Spanish flag to fly half-mast in the Olympic Village or allow its athletes to compete with arm bands.

The four athletes who wore armbands during their events did so before the IOC issued its decision.

The IOC, reluctant as always to politicise the Games, said it could not show Spain special treatment after Zambia, the United States and Georgia had been denied similar requests after tragedies had befallen those countries.

But despite the sombre mood hanging over Spain's delegation in Beijing, most agree the Games must go on.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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