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It all started with them: pioneers of Spanish women's sport

MADRID, 8 Mar.

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It all started with them: pioneers of Spanish women's sport


Their effort and worth opened the doors for them to achieve what no other compatriot had achieved so far. Today, March 8, International Women's Day, we want to highlight ten pioneers and references who have paved the way in Spanish women's sport.

Last August, the Spanish women's soccer team raised its first World Cup to the skies of Sydney, the end of a journey that had started more than half a century before. On February 21, 1971, in La Condomina and against Portugal, the first Spanish national team was launched, a debut that the institutions of the dictatorship tried to frustrate.

Goalkeeper Carmen Arce, known as 'Kubalita' (Valencia, 1956) for her beginnings as a winger, led that first Spain, which played without a shield and without anthem and which missed the first unofficial World Cup in Mexico 1971 due to federation obstacles. The lack of institutional support and a knee injury forced the retirement of the Valencian, who has also been an oncology nurse and university professor.

In 2013, Ana Carrasco (Cehegín, 1997) became the youngest woman to compete in the Moto3 category, and in 2017 she was the first rider to win a race in the World Superbike Championship, where she took another step this year. following.

On September 30, 2018, she wrote her name in gold letters in the history of the competition by becoming the first female champion in the Supersport 300 modality, something that until now no one has been able to match. This 2024, the Murcian will debut alongside the new women's category, WorldWCR, in which she starts as a great favorite.

By stepping on the summit of Shisha Pangma on May 17, 2010, Edurne Pasaban (Tolosa, 1973) became the first woman in history to ascend the 14 eight-thousanders on the planet, a feat that crowned a path full of sacrifices and dramas.

In her adventure, in addition to the cold and the icy slopes, the Gipuzkoan woman dealt with the death of her friend Pepe Garcés in the descent of Dhaulagiri, the frostbite and amputation of the phalanges of two toes in her assault on K2 or with depression, which plunged her into darkness. However, she saw the light again and now helps organizations improve and grow their teams through her conferences.

Carmen Valero (Castelserás, 1955 - Sabadell, 2024) made way for the Spanish athletes with strides, while enduring the "atrocity" that they did to her for training and running in shorts. In the mud she began to forge her legend, by being crowned world cross country champion two consecutive years, in Chepstow 1976 and Düsseldorf 1977.

Between those two events, she made history by becoming the first Spanish Olympic woman in athletics in Montreal 1976, where she competed in the 800 and 1,500 meter events. She passed away at the beginning of this year, her name will live forever in the athletics facilities of the High Performance Center (CAR) in Madrid.

Her bronze in Albertville 1992, after frustrated attempts in Lake Placid 1980, Sarajevo 1984 and Calgary 1988, made Blanca Fernández Ochoa (Madrid, 1963 - Cercedilla, 2019) the first Spanish woman to win a medal in a Winter Games. Only Queralt Castellet, with a silver in Beijing 2022, managed to break 30 years of women's drought in the Olympic event for Spain.

Previously, the Madrid native had written her name in the history books by being the first skier from our country to win a World Cup event, in Vail in 1985. Her successes prolonged the reign of the Fernández Ochoas, after his brother Paco became the first Spanish athlete, and so far the only one, to win gold in the Winter Olympic Games.

Since she completely lost her vision at the age of 8 due to congenital glaucoma, Purificación Santamarta (Burgos, 1962) knew that her life would be a career of improvement. A coupon seller until her retirement in 2015, the woman from Burgos became the big star of the 1992 Barcelona Paralympic Games.

He had already participated in the Paralympic events of 1980, 1984 and 1988 - with a haul of six medals - but he reached his zenith at the Montjüic Olympic Stadium. There, he won the gold, all with a world record, in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meter events, a golden poker that has raised him to the Olympus of Spanish sports. In total, a record of 16 medals - 11 gold - that has inspired other athletes such as Teresa Perales.

Until Barcelona'92, Spain had not seen any of its female athletes get on the podium at an Olympic event. That summer, in the heat of the public gathered at the Palau Blaugrana, Miriam Blasco (Valladolid, 1963) ascended to the Olympus of Spanish sport.

The woman from Valladolid, who arrived in Barcelona as world and European champion, lived up to expectations and defeated the British Nicola Fairbrother in the -56 kilo final, who would later become his wife with the approval in Spain of their marriage. people of the same sex.

27 medals in the Games, seven of them gold, shine the record of the greatest Paralympic swimmer our country has ever produced. Teresa Perales (Zaragoza, 1975), who was paralyzed from the waist down by neuropathy at the age of 19, knew how to find in the pool the perfect way for her to go down in history.

Her exploits in the water, where she also has world and European medals, earned her the Princess of Asturias Sports Award in 2021, being the first athlete with a disability to achieve this. Now, at 48 years old, she is preparing for her new challenge: trying to be in Paris 2024.

Her parents enrolled her in dance classes, but she knew that her destiny lay in the sport her brother practiced: karate. Sandra Sánchez (Talavera de la Reina, 1981) soon showed that she had a gift, although her lack of opportunities forced her to reside in remote places like Australia or Dubai to be able to make a living from it.

In 2015, with a gold in the European Championship, it all began. Since then, she has won 13 gold medals between World Cups, continental championships and other events, which led her to be named by the World Karate Federation as the best karateka in history in the kata modality. In Tokyo 2020, on the only occasion of karate, in the Games, she crowned her career by proclaiming herself Olympic champion.

His name and that of Spanish badminton are linked. Nobody like Carolina Marín (Huelva, 1993), who became number one in the world ranking of the International Federation, has known how to wave the Spanish flag in a mass sport in Asia, which until the arrival of the Huelva native always dominated the competition.

Olympic champion in Rio de Janeiro 2016, she has also been three-time world champion (2014, 2015 and 2018) and six-time European champion (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021 and 2022), a record that not even her two serious knee injuries have been able to blur.