Six of us gave speeches. Six, the same number as in that photo of Barcelona mayor Pasqual Maragall, IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch and Co. in the boat; and, like then, you could feel a sense of common understanding. We all agreed on the huge significance of the Barcelona Games for the city and for Spanish sport, and on the status of Olympic competition above all other disciplines. We came together in the Catalonian capital yesterday to mark two anniversaries: AS's 50th and, in the middle of this jubilee year for the newspaper, 25 years since Barcelona '92. We were hosted by the City Council in an unbeatable setting: the Oval Hall in the Museu de Catalunya. And the people of Barcelona received us with such warmth.
200 Spanish Olympic medallists together for a special night
The evening was all about bringing together Spanish sporting history's Olympic medallists; and I'm pleased to say that it proved to be a wonderful idea. It wasn't possible for every last one to be there, of course. Many are no longer with us, while some were unable to attend, because they are currently competing, because of family engagements, for whatever reason. But we got 200 under one roof, more than the centenary celebrations of the Spanish Olympic Committee itself, as the body's president, Alejandro Blanco, was generous enough to note. An unforgettable event. The spell cast by the city and the memory of those magical Games were without doubt the great mobilisers. The initiative was worth it and then some.
Spain's Olympians were due this unforgettable tribute
And they enjoyed themselves; that was clear to see. For a few hours, we reignited the spirit of an Olympic village, that ever so special experience of coexistence that only those who have had the chance to savour it truly know. Yesterday evening's was a sort of 'intergenerational Olympic village', featuring attendees who had competed in 1960 in Rome - our men's field hockey team, winners of bronze - right up to medallists from the Rio Games. A meeting of the best that Spanish sport has produced, a tribute that we particularly owed them at a paper which, it has to be conceded, hasn't always given them the attention they've deserved, blinded as we are by football. To all of them, thank you for everything.