Spain eyes more than 18 Olympic medals in Tokyo

(Xinhua) 09:11, July 21, 2021

TOKYO, July 21 (Xinhua) -- A total of 321 Spanish Olympians for Tokyo 2020 are trying to improve on the slightly disappointing totals of 17 medals that Spain won in Rio 2016 and 18 from both London 2012 and Beijing 2008.

Spain looks to have several surefire medal winners and medal hopefuls.

Golfer John Rahm, recent winner of the US Open, placed third this weekend in the British Open and is currently the world number one in his sport.

Cyclists Alejendro Valverde and Omar Fraile are favorites for the men's road race, but the 234-kilometer slog with a lot of climbing means nobody can be assured of a medal.

Track cyclists Albert Torres and Sebastian Mora look a better bet than Valverde and Fraile as they compete in the complicated and technical Madison event.

Spain are missing two athletes who would have been favorites for a medal. Rafael Nadal pulled out in order to rest after the clay-court season, while Carolina Marin, who won a badminton gold in Rio, needs knee surgery.

Spain will look to its teams to help fuel the medal haul, with both men's and women's basketball teams expected to win medals. The men, who have the Gasol brothers making their last hurrah, will look to do better than the bronze they won in Rio, while the women have an excellent chance of taking silver (with gold the likely preserve of the USA).

The men's football team also look a good bet with a young and talented side, including six players from the squad that reached the semifinals of the recent European Championships.

Spain's two handball sides also look tough, with the women's team aiming to go one better than the silver they won at the 2019 World Championships in Japan, while the men travel on the back of two European Championships and a bronze in the World Championships held in January.

In the swimming pool, Spain can expect some joy at water polo, with both the men and women travelling as runners-up in the last World Championships - although in the case of the women, it will be important not to meet the USA too early in the tournament.

Staying in the water, Spain will expect some reward from their K4-500 canoe team - an event where the Spanish have traditionally been strong.

Fittingly for Games held in Japan, the martial arts promise something shiny for Spain with 2018 and 2019 World Champion Sandra Sanchez going for gold in karate, and Damian Quintero travelling to the men's event ranked first in the world.

23-year-old Niko Sherazadishvili also travels with the highest ranking in the -90kg category in Judo and will start as favorite, while in Taekwondo, Jesus Torosa also has medal opportunities.

Three-time world triathlon champion Mario Mola, who is currently ranked second in the world, has an excellent chance of a medal, with veteran Javier Gomez Noya also looking to add to the silver he won at London 2012.

Weightlifter Lydia Valentin will look to cap her fourth Olympic appearance with a medal to add to the silver she won in London and the bronze she picked up in Rio to end her impressive career. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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