World Cup, Nadal, Belmonte, Gasol... 50 wonderful years of As

World Cup, Nadal, Belmonte, Gasol... 50 wonderful years of As

You can fit a lot into half a century, and nowhere is that truer than in the world of Spanish sport. In that time, Spain has gone from being essentially a country of three sports - football, cycling and boxing - to one embracing a whole host of them; a nation capable of dazzling in disciplines that would have previously seemed unimaginable. Carolina Marín and Javier Fernández, world champions in badminton and figure skating, respectively, are prime examples of that evolution. Fernando Alonso in Formula One, too.

Spain has flourished in team sports...

It has been a magical 50 years, in which we have seen our men's football team win, back-to-back-to-back, the Euros, the World Cup and the Euros once more. And seen our national sides also dominate the globe in basketball, handball, waterpolo, futsal... And seen the Gasol brothers face each other in the opening tip-off in the NBA All-Star Game. And seen Real Madrid add as many European Cups in glorious technicolour as had come in black and white, Barcelona win several too, and Atlético Madrid and Valencia miss out at the final hurdle. Yes sir, we've shown what we've got in team sports.

Iker Casillas lifts the World Cup after Spain's final win over the Netherlands in 2010.

...and individual sports too

The same goes for individual sports. We've won 11 Tours de France, 20 French Opens (of which 10 are Rafa Nadal's), five Davis Cups and Fed Cups, four Wimbledons and US Opens... We've pulled on the green jacket five times in Augusta. In motorcycling, we've amassed 48 world titles. Athletics has yielded Olympic golds in events ranging from the 1500m (Fermín Cacho) to the high jump (Ruth Beitia). Over the past half-century, Spain's women have taken their place at the fore of our triumphant Olympians - nobody more so than Mireia Belmonte. And we've hosted the Games; indeed, Barcelona '92 proved the springboard for many of our successes.

Swimmer Mireia Belmonte is Diario AS's greatest Spanish sportswoman of the past 50 years.

The stars of the past 50 years bring the promise of another half-century of glory

Diario As turns 50 this year, a birthday that we're going to be celebrating with a special awards gala in Madrid on 4 December. Today, we've announced the prize-winners - headed up by Nadal and Belmonte, named Spain's best sportsman and best sportswoman during this time, respectively - who have all carved out their niche in our sporting history; they are symbols of this period of splendour. And they bring with them the promise of 50 more years of glory.

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