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Spain national football team celebrating its victory at the UEFA Euro 2008 Championship in Madrid.

Sport in Spain in the second half of 20th century has been dominated by soccer. Other popular sport activities include basketball, tennis, cycling, handball, motorcycling, Formula One, water sports, golf, and skiing. Spain has also hosted a number of international events such as the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and the 1982 FIFA World Cup. With Rafael Nadal's Wimbledon championship, the 2006 World Basketball Championship, the 2009 Basketball Eurocup, the 2008 Tennis Davis Cup, the football team bringing home the Euro 2008 trophy and Carlos Sastre's Tour de France triumph more recently, several papers look beyond Sastre's win to claim that Spain is enjoying something of a sporting "Golden Age"-similar to the Spanish 17th century domination in painting and literature.

Contents

Types of sports

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Soccer

2006 final of the Copa del Rey competition.

Soccer is the most popular sport in Spain. La Liga or Primera División (The Spanish League) is considered to be one of the world's best competitions. Successful teams in recent European competitions include FC Barcelona (UEFA Champions League holders), Real Madrid, Sevilla, Villarreal and Valencia. Real Madrid and Barcelona have dominated with La Liga for much of its history, and created an intimate rivalry. Real Madrid has been 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. This said, as of 2009, FC Barcelona is both champion of La Liga and the UEFA Champions League's victor. Other teams such as Sevilla and Valencia have also gained prominence by winning the UEFA Cup in 2006-2007 and in 2004, respectively.

The Spanish national soccer team has been successful and have qualified for the FIFA World Cup tournament twelve times since 1930. 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

Spain national team in 2006 World Championships.

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

A number of Spaya nish players such as Pau Gasol and his younger brother Marc Gasol, José Calderón, Rudy Fernández, and Sergio Rodriguez are currently playing in the NBA. Another notable player is current teenage sensation Ricky Rubio, selected fifth overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, who decided not to immediately move to the NBA and now plays for Barça.

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 have won the gold medal at Eurobasket 2009.

Tennis

Rafael Nadal

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

Besides that, Spain has also won the Davis Cup four times (2000, 2004, 2008, 2009)

Rafael Nadal is considered one of the greatest Spanish tennis players of all time. He has won the French Open four consecutive times. After defeating then world number #1 Roger Federer, Nadal claimed the Wimbledon trophy and became only the second Spaniard to do so. He also won the 2009 Australian Open, the first male Spaniard to do so. In 2009, he became the first player ever to simultaneously hold Grand Slam titles on clay, grass, and hardcourt. In addition, Nadal is the Gold Medalist at 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

Other notable Spanish tennis players include David Ferrer, Carlos Moyá, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Feliciano López, Felix Mantilla, Fernando Verdasco, Alberto Berasategui, Carlos Costa, Sergi Bruguera, Albert Costa, Àlex Corretja, Conchita Martínez, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, her brother Emilio Sánchez, Manuel Santana, and Nicolas Almagro.

Handball

The Spanish Liga ASOBAL is one of the best club competitions. A number of Spanish teams such as BM Ciudad Real, FC Barcelona Handbol, and Portland San Antonio have won or were finalists in the EHF Champions League.

Since the 1990s the men's national team has won eight medals in top class international tournaments, with three bronze medals at the Olympics, three second and a third place at the European Championships and a World Championship.

Baseball

See: División de Honor de Béisbol

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.

In Formula One the two world championships of Fernando Alonso have made the sport popular in Spain. Due to this popularity it is currently the only country to host two Grands Prix, the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona and the European Grand Prix on the Valencia Street Circuit.

In World Rally Championship Spanish rally driver Carlos Sainz won two world championships in 1990 and 1992. He was long time the most famous Spanish rally driver. Sainz retired from WRC in 2005 and from current Spanish rallydrivers Daniel Sordo has acheved best results by finishing third in championship in 2008 and 2009.

Cycling

Cycling event in Santander.

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.

Several Spanish 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.

More recently, in 2008, Sastre became the seventh and third consecutive Spaniard to win the Tour de France, then followed by Contador winning his second tour in 2009's edition.

Golf

Golf course in Mallorca.

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. Sergio García[1] spent much of his career in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings (over 250 weeks between 2000 and 2008). As of 5 October 2009, García is ranked 8th.

Water sports

Water polo

The Spain men's national water polo team is no stranger to the world's elite of this sport. So far, the 1990s decade remains as a particularly successful one for the Spanish team. Major achievements include a Silver medal at the 1992 Olympics and its greatest performance to date, winning the Gold medal at the 1996 Olympics.

Other remarkable performances include winning the Gold medal at the 1998 World Aquatics Championships and, again, at the 2001 edition. They also took Silver at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome. Before that, Spain had taken Silver at the 1991 edition and then again at the 1994 World Aquatics Championships.

Synchronized swimming

During the 2000s, Spanish swimmer Gemma Mengual has heralded a series of both individual and team medals for Spain in all the major international synchronized swimming tournaments, including the Silver medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Rhythmic Gymnastics

Rhythmic Gymnastics Is a popular sport through all Spain, so far the most successful rhythmic gymnasts are Carolina Pascual who won a silver medal in the individual all around competition in Barcelona 1992 and Almudena Cid this last is the only rhythmic gymnast who competes at four olympic finals, placing 9th at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 being 8th at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. In the Atlanta 1996 the Spanish team won the first gold medal of the new competition by groups.

Volleyball

The Spanish national team recently accomplished its more remarkable success to date by winning the 2007 Men's European Volleyball Championship defeating the host, Russia.

Roller hockey (Quad)

Roller hockey (Quad) is played by professional athletes. The Spanish national team are ranked in the top 4 position teams in the world.

Basque and Valencian pelota

Basque pelota and Valencian pilota are traditional Spanish sports. Tournaments includes trinquete, Trofeu Individual Bancaixa, Circuit Bancaixa, raspall singles championship, and raspall team championship.

Skiing

Formigal ski resort in the Pyrenees.

Skiing is a popular sport. In the past, the sport was under development for economic reasons. However the improvement of the economy of Spain, helped skiing become an active sport event. It has become popular, and the skiing sites have been modernized in recent years. In Spain is the southernmost ski resort of Europe, Sierra Nevada. Skiing is one of the favourite sports of the Spanish Royal Family.

Rugby

Rugby Union has been played in Spain since the 1920s. Although not as well-known as sports like football and basketball, it is gaining in popularity. Areas with a tradition of playing rugby include Valladolid, Sant Boi de Llobregat and the Basque Country.

Spain qualified for the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

Rugby league has long been played in French Catalonia and with the admission of French team Catalans Dragons, it has begun to be spread to the Spanish region of Catalonia with the formation of a Catalan league which includes an FC Barcelona team.

See also

References

  1. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/golf/7507718.stm [Garcia aims for Spanish hat-trick]

External links


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