Alfredo Relaño, Editor of AS for 21 years, spoke at the AS 50th Anniversary Awards Gala to the sports men and women that have brought so much glory for Spain ever since the birth of the newspaper: from the pioneers (Nieto, Santana, Orantes, Paquito Fernández Ochoa...) to the more recent heroines (Mireia, Beitia and Carolina Marín). Here is Relaño's speech to those who gathered on Monday evening in Madrid to celebrate 50 years of this newspaper:
Your Majesties, distinguished political and sporting authorities, members of PRISA, athletes, sponsors, friends… Thank you all for being here.
Fifty years ago, a group of pioneers undertook the happy task of launching a new sports newspaper, AS, on the initiative of Vicente Montiel, an editor and printer who enjoyed repeated success.
It was a wise decision. The paper’s new design, its quality graphics, its position, its boldness and its content made it an instant success. Some of its innovations, such as AS Colour or the global travels of reporter Miguel Vidal, in search of great sporting heroes of the past, became legendary.
In the course of these 50 years, AS has grown alongside Spanish sport. When we first appeared on the street, a classic sporting trilogy still dominated: football, cycling and boxing. But at precisely that time others sports were emerging thanks to solitary heroes, born in lean times. I am referring to the likes of Santana, Emiliano, Ángel Nieto, Severiano Ballesteros, José Perramón, Mariano Haro, Paquito Fernández Ochoa, Arancha Sánchez Vicario… these athletes were broadening the foundations of our sport, bringing it along in leaps and bounds and laying the groundwork to project it onto the global stage during those unforgettable days at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
AS today is distinct from its founding forebear. It remains a paper, but it is not only a paper. It can still be bought at newsagents and I hope that remains the case for a long time, but it can also be enjoyed in various digital formats.
This affords us a much greater reach than our delivery trucks. Today, AS has online editions in Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Miami and we are on the verge of launching a digital version for the whole of the Arab world, available to the 280 million people living between Mauritania and Iraq. And we are planning to go even further, to the boundaries of the Far East, all the while striving to preserve the spirit of our founders.
Sports journalism is woven from noble material. In our sphere, good news makes the news. We have the fortunate task of passing on to the people the achievements of singular and courageous minority, who face up to pain, exhaustion and pressure... Role models.
Lending even more joy to this profession is that in recent years Spain has embraced sport and has achieved enormous success; success that would have been inconceivable 50 years ago.
Sport has shone a particularly emphatic light on the transformation of our country over these past 50 years. And that includes the growing role of women whose presence, as much in mass participation as in international achievements, has exceeded every expectation.
Pioneers such as Pepa Senante, Sagrario Aguado, Carmen Valero and Paz Corominas will no doubt view with immense satisfaction the trail they blazed to open the way for Ruth Beitia, Carolina Marín, Mireia Belmonte and all the other successful athletes of today.
At this ceremony we wish to express our profound gratitude to all the athletes and Spanish federations, organisers and sponsors, who have made this extraordinary development of Spanish sport possible; based on the talent and dedication of everyone involved and with the springboard of those Games in Barcelona, at which the current King of Spain, Don Felipe, the son of another Olympian King, Juan Carlos, was the standard bearer.
The award-winners that we honour tonight, and who on their part honour us by accepting them, are just the tip of the iceberg. This ceremony is intended to be a homage to all of Spain’s athletes: to those who have won, to those who have not, but who all strive to bring the best out of themselves in search of their goals.
To everyone here, once again, thank you. And enjoy the evening.