Sport in Spain generally means football. The sports section of the evening news on TVE1, the main nationwide television station, is almost completely devoted to that pasttime that is for some strange reason considered a sport. Nowadays, of course, an even greater interest is being directed at football (the soccer variety for American readers), given the Spanish team's achievement of reaching the semifinals of the Soccer World Cup.
Still, things are changing in Spain and a number of other sports are beginning to receive a fairer proportion of attention. Furthermore, Spanish teams and individual participants are doing very well in various disciplines.
The Tour de France started yesterday and hopes are high that the Spanish cyclist Contador will repeat his victory of last year.
The final of the men's singles has just taken place at Wimbledon, and it was handsomely won by Spanish player Rafa Nadal, a young man as modest and self-effacing in his own language as he appeared to be in his post-match interview with Sue Barker.
Today also saw the Catalunyan motorcycling Grand Prix MotoGP, in which the first two places were taken by Spanish riders, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. Fair enough, they have an easier time than otherwise, thanks to the absence through injury of their Italian rival, Valentono Rossi, but would be giving him a run for his money in any case.
I know less about other sports, though am aware that Pol Gasol, a Spaniard, plays at the highest level of basketball in the USA (for a team called the Lakers, I believe) and that Spanish teams do well in such things as water-polo and handball.
The only disappointment is that so little interest is afforded the only real sport in the world, Rugby Union. Let's hope that, with everything coming up roses in Spanish sports, the Spanish nation will soon discover the real thing.
(Photo shows Spain against the British Lions, played in Elche, May 2007.)
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