Our Olympic team landed back in Spain on Tuesday, healthy medal haul in tow. The chief heroes headed swiftly on to their home regions. At AS, meanwhile, we were treated to a visit from Spanish Olympic Committee head Alejandro Blanco and our standard bearer at the closing ceremony, race walker Jesús Ángel García Bragado - fresh from competing at his seventh (!) Games. The meeting had been arranged beforehand, and it was an engagement they honoured despite their return being delayed by three hours. That was appreciated, all the more so given how illustrative our chat proved. García Bragado's account of the welcome he received at the Olympic village offered up a definition of the spirit of the Games.
Olympic team spirit among our athletes...
"A team", Blanco stressed time and again. The great thing about the Olympics is that they bring together sportsmen and women of a wide range of disciplines under the umbrella of one single faith: that of sport. That's why folks like Rafa Nadal or Pau Gasol, and so many others used to the maximum level of comfort, happily bunk down all together in boarding school-style conditions, sharing bathrooms and queuing up at the buffet for whatever's on the menu. That's why Spanish Olympians like García Bragado are welcomed by their team-mates with such devotion, with a guard of honour. Seven times he's been there, in this different world; a higher, spiritual universe in which creature comforts don't come into it.
But there's a split between Spain's governing bodies
That applause for the great veteran is indicative of true team spirit. It's a shame we don't see the same in the upper echelons, where there's a visible divide between Blanco's Olympic Committee and the National Sports Council, led by Miguel Cardenal. Maybe it doesn't do the greatest of damage. In some sense, it perhaps even brings certain yields. Blanco went out and garnered extra support from the Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia; Cardenal snared funds for other sports from football's TV revenue. Following their separate paths, they've each procured new resources. But I'd like to see a unity of purpose to get the most out of the resources available. Frankly, I don't see why they can't see eye to eye.