A very big Boy and a very small Bubka

On July 22, Javier García Chico He lived a double celebration: he turned 51 and stood on the podium at the Serrahima stadium to be honored on the quarter-century anniversary of his surprising bronze medal in the pole vault event. Barcelona Games. That is to say, Chico was just 26 years old when he rubbed shoulders with the best athletes in the most circus-like event in athletics.

For García Chico they were his second Games. He had already been in Seoul four years before, although without success, and would repeat in Atlanta and Sydney to complete four Olympic appearances. He arrived in good shape in Barcelona, ​​setting records to rise from 5.65 to 5.77 meters.

He 5.75 meter jump that he gave the bronze medal to the dessert, he considers it “one of the five best moments” of his life. Because it was a test with suspense, with tension that was infected by part of the public who booed the Catalan’s rivals when they tried to overcome the bar. Like Fermín Cacho, he competed with new shoes and managed to overcome a bar that he himself Sergey Bubka, very nervous, shot down after two nulls at the previous height. The tsar took a chance on a higher jump… and fell.

Indeed, Bubka had his cross on the windy afternoon of Montjuic. He arrived with an unparalleled track record, with 35 world records between 1984 and 1992, to which were added three world championships (he would later achieve three more) and the gold in Seoul’88. A year before the Barcelona Games she was able to enjoy her indoor world record (6.10) in Anoeta. And after Barcelona he would continue his harvest. In fact, in his career he raised the world record from 5.86 to 6.15.

With all that baggage, Bubka was in no hurry to start in Barcelona. He was a spectator of the parade of attempts by his rivals, because he did not want to start until 5.70 m. He hesitated too much in the hallway, waiting for moments of less wind, but the time limit of 2 minutes for each trial ended up overwhelming him to move on to sudden death in 5.75 m. which was fatal. The gold went to his compatriot Maxim Tarasov.

Retired from competition in 2003, Chico has continued to be involved in athletics, training pole vaulters. He ‘lost’ his bronze medal for two years and turned up at his mother’s house. Graduated in advertising, he worked in an agency and a television production company. “I have to admit that I continue to live off the echo of my medal although there are people who don’t even call me anymore.”

Meanwhile, Bubka continues in all athletic settings as a manager. He saw how Lavillenie He took away his world record in the city where the Ukrainian had established it, Donetsk, and how Sebastian Coe won the election for the presence of the International Federation.

Peñalver’s secret

Another of the great surprises of Spanish athletics in Barcelona’92 was provided by the Murcian decathlete Antonio Penalver with his money in the superman test. He had been 23rd in the previous Seoul Games and eighth in the Tokyo World Cup, a year before. He gave his first ‘wake-up call’ with his bronze at the European Indoor Championships in Genoa, four months before Barcelona, ​​and at his home in Alhama de Murcia by adding 8,478 points in May. But his Olympic goal was a place of honor. However, he put in an impeccable performance. At the end of the first day he was third after the German Meier and the Czech Zmelik, who would ultimately take the gold. In the absence of the agonizing 1,500, Peñalver had the money secure. It was enough for him that the American Dave Johnson did not beat him by 17 seconds. The Murcian stuck to his rival like a limpet and guaranteed himself the Olympic runner-up spot.

As usually happens after decathlon events, Peñalver hugged his rivals, then greeted the King… and also hugged the coach who had taken care of him since he was a child, Miguel Ángel Millán.

Last December, almost a quarter of a century after the Games, the Police arrested Millán in Tenerife for child abuse. And then a series of complaints were unleashed about his shameful actions with the kids he trained in the eighties in Murcia. One of those who openly confessed that he was the object of said abuse was Antonio Peñalver.

One of his words – “When I hugged Millán in Barcelona I thought ‘what the hell am I doing'” – was quite an impact. With a sad face, he said that the abuse began at age 13 and was repeated. “We were village children and he acted as a great father to all of us, at least that’s what he told us.” This 48-year-old man, 1.93 tall and almost 100 kilos, revealed his big secret almost through tears.

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