Spain's Olympic hero Walz only became 'Spanish' one year ago

Kayak gold-medallist Marcus Walz was born in Oxford to German and English parents and has lived in Spain his whole life, yet only got his Spanish passport one year ago

Spain's Olympic hero Walz only became 'Spanish' one year ago

Many people in Spain were left asking on Tuesday afternoon, just who is Marcus Cooper Walz? That’s not only because this relatively unknown kayaker came from seemingly nowhere to win the Men’s Kayak Single 1000m and bring home Spain’s fifth gold medal of the games, but also because of his rather un-Spanish Northern European appearance and name.

The blonde-haired, blue-eyed Walz (a particularly difficult word to pronounce if you’re from the Iberian Peninsula), in fact isn’t Spanish, at least he wasn’t until one year ago.

Born in Oxford to German mother, English father 

The 21-year old was in fact born in Oxford (UK) to a German mother and British father. Yet despite his father’s English nationality, Walz’ birth in England wan’t by design and he has grown up on the Spanish island of Mallorca (where his parents run a hotel) since he was three months old.

Gold medalist Marcus Walz of Spain celebrates during the medal ceremony during the Men's Kayak Single 1000m Final A on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

“If I knew at the time, I’d have given birth to him in Mallorca and we would have saved all that time on getting his Spanish nationality sorted,” said Walz’s mother after her son’s victory on Tuesday.

While Walz has always competed for Spain, he only just received his Spanish passport a year ago. “The International Olympics Committee doesn’t allow you to represent a country without a passport and the nationalisation process has taken me four or five years,” said the newly-crowned Olympic Kayaking champion.