Rafa Nadal – Painting by Artist Oana Cocindau
Spain is well known because of its gastronomy, weather, culture, and… Yes, we know what you are thinking. Sports! Some of the best athletes ever were born in Spain. Sport is really important in Spanish people’s lives and a lot of great sports figures have come out of this country. But who is in that top ten? Let’s talk about the 10 greatest Spanish athletes ever.
The best Spanish basketball player ever is, without a doubt, Pau Gasol. His career began at Futbol Club Barcelona, but he rapidly reached the NBA being only the second Spanish player to achieve that. During his first season, he was the first non-USA player to receive the Rookie of the Year award. Besides, Pau Gasol was the first Spanish player to participate in an All-Star Game, where he has appeared six times.
As a member of the Spanish National Team, Pau has earned three Olympic medals, a World Championship, three European Championships, and became the highest scorer of all time in a single year during the 2017 Eurobasket. He also won two NBA championships with the Lakers.
Rafael Nadal is currently ranked #2 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). Since he began his career has won 2 Olympic gold medals, 5 Davis Cup with the National Team, 22 Grand Slams ( A record equalled by none), and 14 Roland Garros titles. He is the only tennis player to have won an amazing 14 titles in the same tournament and is considered the greatest tennis player ever.
Sprint canoeist David Cal had to be in our top ten. He is the Spanish athlete who has won more Olympic medals of all time. In 2004, he became the first Spanish canoer to achieve an Olympic title, and after that four more medals came (a gold and four silver).
Severiano Ballesteros, who died in 2011 at the age of 54, was one of the best golfers in the world. In his record, there are 2 Augusta Masters, 5 Ryder Cup, 3 British Open, 5 World Championships, and much more. He is one of the greatest golfers of all time and still considered a golf legend.
Miguel Induráin is one of the greatest cyclists in the world as he dominated this sport from the late 80s and throughout the 90s. He won 5 Tours of France consequently, two Giro d’Italia, and an Olympic gold medal.
Mireia Belmonte is the first female champion in the history of Spanish swimming. She has more than 40 medals in huge international championships including four Olympic medals. In 2017 Belmonte received the World Sports Award for Best Spanish Athlete in the last 50 years.
Badminton player Carolina Marin entered the history of this sport by becoming the first non-Asian athlete to rise to #1 in the world rankings when she was 22 years old. Her record highlights include an Olympic gold medal, two world titles, and four European golds.
Angel Nieto, who died around three years ago after suffering an accident while riding a quad bike, popularized motorcycle Racing in Spain in the late 60s. He won 13 World Championship titles (or “12 plus 1” as he used to say because of his superstition), 90 Grand Prix, and 139 podiums over two decades.
Fernando Alonso is Spain’s most famous Formula 1 driver. He was two-time Formula 1 Drivers’ World champion and World Endurance champion. He is also the only Spanish driver to ever have won the Grand Prix with a total of 32 wins. Alonso has raced for some of the most renowned teams including Ferrari, Renault, and McLaren.
Of course, we had to include a football player in this top ten, but we wanted to show others athletes to remember that despite football is the most popular sport in Spain and that means a lot of talented football player come out from Spain, there are so many great Spanish athletes in other sports.
About football players, we have chosen to stand out Andrés Iniesta, whom many people considered the best Spanish football player ever. Playing at Barcelona FC they won 33 titles and at Spain National Team a WorldCup and two EuroCups. He also has many individuals titles.
We would need more space to talk about all the greatest Spanish athletes, but here you have some of them to learn about!