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SPORTS IN SPAIN

Soccer / football

Football is regarded to be the most popular sport in Spain. La Liga (The Spanish League) is ranked as the highest division of football and it is considered to be one of the world's best competitions. Notable teams includes Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, Atletico de Madrid, Sevilla CF, Villarreal CF, Deportivo La Coruña and Valencia CF. Real Madrid was dubbed by many pundits as the most successful club in Europe, having won the UEFA Champions League a record 9 times, almost all other UEFA club competitions at least once and the La Liga a record 31 times. Other teams such as Sevilla and Valencia have also won the UEFA Cup within the past several years.

The Spanish national football team has been successful and have qualified for the FIFA World Cup tournament twelve times since 1978. However, they have failed to win the tournament; their best record is a fourth place position in 1950. Their record in the European Championship is much better. They were champions in 1964, runners-up in 1984 and champions once again in 2008. Spain has won 2 medals in football Olympic games tournament. They have won a silver medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and won a gold medal during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The youth teams have also been quite successful in the last decade. The U-20 team won the FIFA World Youth Championship in 1999 and were runners-up in 1985 and 2003. The U-17 team was runners-up three times and won third place in 1997 in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.


Basketball

Basketball is a popular sport in Spain. The Spanish ACB is one of the major European basketball leagues. Spanish teams such as Real Madrid Baloncesto, FC Barcelona Bàsquet or Joventut Badalona have won international championships such as the Euroleague or the ULEB Cup.

A number of Spanish players such as Marc Gasol, José Calderón, Rudy Fernández (basketball), Sergio Rodriguez, and Pau Gasol, are currently playing in the NBA league.

The Spanish national basketball team has achieved a high ranked position in the international tournament by winning their first ever gold medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championship, and have won six silver medals at the Eurobasket. Most recently they won a silver at the 2008 Olympics.


Tennis

Spain has produced a number of tennis champions, excelling in tournaments held on clay courts such as the Roland Garros tournament.

Beside that, Spain also won 2 times the Davis Cup (2000, 2004)

Rafael Nadal is considered the one greatest Spanish tennis player of all time. After defeating then world number #1 Roger Federer, Nadal claimed the Wimbeldon trophy and became only the second Spainiard to do so. In addition, Nadal is the Gold Medalist at 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. He is ranked #1 in the ATP list since August, the 18th of 2008

Notable tennis players include Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Carlos Moyá, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Feliciano López, Felix Mantilla, Fernando Verdasco, Alberto Berasategui, Sergi Bruguera, Albert Costa, Àlex Corretja, Conchita Martínez, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Emilio Sánchez Vicario, Manuel Santana, and Nicolas Almagro


Handball

The Spanish Liga ASOBAL is one of the major handball tournaments in Europe. A number of Spanish teams such as BM Ciudad Real, FC Barcelona Handbol, and Portland San Antonio have won or have become finalists in the EHF Champions League.

During the 2000s the male Spanish national handball team has been a regular finalist in top class international tournaments. They won a bronze medal in 2000 at the World Handball Championship, and won the World Championship in 2005, while winning a silver medal at the 2006 European Handball Championship. Then the team won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.


Motor sports

Spain have hosted three Grand Prix motorcycle racing events. They include the Catalan motorcycle Grand Prix, the Spanish Grand Prix, and the Valencian Community motorcycle Grand Prix. Most events have received high attendance numbers.

Current Spanish motorcycling champions include Dani Pedrosa, Héctor Faubel, Jorge Lorenzo, Héctor Barberá, Álvaro Bautista and Emilio Alzamora. Notable retired racers include Álex Crivillé, Jorge Martínez Aspar, Sete Gibernau, Sito Pons, and Ángel Nieto.

Spain has hosted the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix. The achievements of Fernando Alonso has made the sport become popular in the country. These events have established two Grand Prix tournaments to be held in Spain. They include the European Grand Prix and Valencia Street Circuit.


Cycling

Cycling has been an important sport in Spain since the 1940s. The Vuelta a España (Spanish for "Tour of Spain") is one of the most important cycling events in the world, together with the Tour de France (French for "Tour of France") and Giro d'Italia (Italian for "Tour of Italy") racing tournaments.

Some of Spain's cycling athletes have won the Tour de France, including Federico Bahamontes, Luis Ocaña, Pedro Delgado,Óscar Pereiro, Alberto Contador, and Carlos Sastre. The most successful Spanish cyclist is Miguel Indurain. He won the Tour de France in five consecutive periods between 1991 and 1995. On July 27, 2008, Sastre became the seventh and third consecutive Spaniard to win the Tour de France.


Golf

Golf has become popular among the Spanish. There are a number of courses located in different parts of Spain. They include the San Roque, Sotogrande, Valderrama, and Alcaidesa. Spain hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup.

Spanish golfer Severiano Ballesteros won the US Masters twice, and the British Open 3 times. José María Olazábal has won 2 Masters titles.


Volleyball

Volleyball is one of the most popular team sports in Spain. The Spanish volleyball have created international competitions, for both local and international tournaments. The game of volleyball is played during the summer period. It is participated by athletes and numerous popular competitions organized by vóley beach, not only in the coastal beaches, but also in the main cities.

Bullfighting

Bullfighting or tauromachy, is a traditional spectacle of Spain, Portugal, some cities in southern France, and several Latin American countries, in which one or more live bulls are ritually killed as a public spectacle.

The tradition, as it is practiced today, involves professional toreros, who execute various formal moves with the intent, during various phases of the fight, of distracting, angering, or causing injury to the bull itself. Such maneuvers are performed at close range, and can result in injury or even death of the performer. The bullfight usually concludes with the death of the bull by a well-placed sword thrust as the finale. In Portugal the finale consists of a tradition called the pega, where men (forcados) try to grab and hold the bull by its horns when it runs at them. Forcados are dressed in a traditional costume of damask or velvet, with long knit hats as worn by the campinos (bull headers) from Ribatejo.

The oldest ring in the world is situated in Ronda (Malaga) in Spain.

Bullfighting generates heated controversy in many areas of the world, including Mexico, Spain and Portugal. Supporters of bullfighting argue that it is a culturally important tradition, while animal rights groups argue that it is a blood sport because of the suffering of the bull and horses during the bullfight.

1 comment:

tamara said...

Correction on motorsports:

Neither Hector Faubel nor Hector Barbera have won a world title, therefore they are not champions. Both have been highest placed as runner-up (125cc).

And as of now Sete Gibernau is not retired anymore, he has returned to racing, already tested and will ride for Ducati again next year.


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