125 Catalan athletes competing in Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics
Mireia Belmonte, Gasol brothers, Saúl Craviotto and waterpolo teams among medal hopefuls
Catalonia is sending 101 athletes to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, and a possible 24 to the Paralympics.
One of the stars of the team, with four Olympic medals to her name, including a Gold in the 200m butterfly in Rio de Janeiro, is swimmer Mireia Belmonte. The Badalona native will be focusing on the 400m freestyle, the 1,500m freestyle and the 800m freestyle this time around.
Belmonte and fellow Catalan and 2016 Gold-medal winner, canoeist Saúl Craviotto, will be the flagbearers for Spain at the opening ceremony.
Catalonia is also well-represented in many of the team sports, with three Catalans – Queralt Casas, Sílvia Domínguez and Laia Palau – in the women's basketball team, and three in the men's team – Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Ricky Rubio. Both teams will be dreaming of Gold after winning Silver and Bronze in Rio respectively.
A majority of Spain's waterpolo squad will be made up of Catalans with six in the men's team and an incredible 12 out of 13 in the women's team, with strong Catalan representation also in the artistic gymnastics, hockey, artistic swimming and handball teams.
When it comes to football, Spain can never be discounted. Five Catalans are in the squad that will be hoping to go far in the tournament.
Also among the medal hopefuls will be World Champion table tennis player Jordi Morales, who will be appearing at his fifth Paralympics and hoping to add a Gold medal to the Silver and Bronze he won at London 2012 and Athens 2004.
The Olympic Games, delayed by a year due to the pandemic, are running from July 23 to August 8, 2021, with the Paralympic Games taking place between August 24 and September 5.
A total of 51 men and 50 women from Catalonia are in the 321-strong Spain Olympic squad, while it is expected Catalonia will provide 24 of around 120 athletes traveling as members of the Spanish Paralympic team.
Winter bid and Barcelona 92
The previous Catalan government endorsed a Pyrenees-Barcelona bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics in June 2020, while the current administration has said it wants to hold a vote in 2022 among residents in the Pyrenees on whether to go ahead with the bid or not.
Barcelona hosted the Summer Games in 1992, which left a contested legacy in the Catalan capital.