Felipe VI participated this Thursday in the tribute that was paid in Palma to the sailors who competed in the 1992 Barcelona Olympicsamong them the then heir to the Crown, and who managed five medals for Spainfour of them gold.
The event, organized within the framework of the Copa del Rey sailing, brought together at the headquarters of the Real Club Náutico de Palma (RCNP) to ten of the 16 members of the team that participated in the different sailing categories in Barcelona’92, an event that is now celebrating its 25th anniversary. In addition to the King, Theresa Zabell, José María Van der Ploeg, Domingo Manrique, Jordi Calafat, Natalia Vía-Dufresne, Fernando León, Asier Fernández, Fernando Rita and Jaime Piris have been there. Among those absent, two names stood out, Francisco ‘Kiko’ Sánchez Luna y José Luis ‘Pepote’ Ballesterboth convicted of corruption crimes during their time as political officials after their retirement from sailing.
Ballester was sentenced last February to 15 months and two days in prison by the Palma Court for being one of those involved in the Balearic branch of the Nóos Institute plot. In this case, Iñaki Urdangarin, husband of Infanta Cristina, was also sentenced to six years and three months in prison, pending the resolution of his appeal to the Supreme Court.
In the case of Sánchez Luna, gold medalist in Barcelona’92, he is sentenced to eight years and six months of disqualification for a crime of prevarication due to irregularities in the awarding of telecentre facilities in Alicante when he was a PP councilor in this City Council of 2007 to 2011.
The organization of the event informed them that they were not counting on them, considering that their presence was inopportune and they accepted this position, sources from the RCNP have reported.
Other sailors who were part of the Olympic team have not been able to attend due to scheduling reasons, such as Luis Doreste y Patricia Guerrato which is added the case of Mireia Casasdied in 2002.
“Thank you for making history”
The event, which barely lasted ten minutes, consisted of a group photo of the King and the other nine sailors with a background panel that read “Thank you for making history.”
The candle gave to Spain four gold medals and one silver, of the 22 he achieved in total in his best Olympic Games to date. At that event, the then Prince of Asturias, in addition to achieving a diploma together with Fernando León in the Soling Open category, was the flag bearer of the Spanish team that paraded through the Montjuic Olympic stadium.
Present at the tribute were the president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blancothat of the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation, Julia Casanuevaand that of the RCNP, Javier Sanz.
Sanz has stressed that the sailors who competed 25 years ago contributed to “Spain’s transition towards modernity”, which is why he considered it “justice” to pay tribute to them for “the unforgettable images” they left in their memory.
Blanco recalled that sailing is the sport that has brought the most medals to Spain in the different Olympic events. “It is a very special day to be able to see these heroes who have written with gold letters the brightest pages of sailing and Spanish sport. They are also great ambassadors of our country“, he commented.
Zabell, who together with Doreste has the honor of having obtained two gold medals in different Olympic Games, has assured that one of the keys to the success 25 years ago was that the sailing team was “compact and everyone got along very well”. “When there was joy, we all celebrated it together,” recalled Zabell, who was later an MEP with the PP and vice president of the COE.
Once the tribute is over, Felipe VI has boarded the ‘Aifos’ to participate in the fourth day of the King’s Cup of sailing, in which the Navy boat is the leader in the ORC1 category. The King has taken the helm of ‘Aifos’ on three of the four days of competition, which will conclude next Saturday with the awards ceremony over which he will preside.