Fifty years ago, a group of pioneers were preparing to launch a sports newspaper. That was a very different Spain. Our sport then was going through a period of the classic trio of football, cycling and boxing, while some new heroes in 'minority sports', as we called them then, were just beginning to emerge. Tennis' number one Manuel Santana was the main icon of that time, but it wasn't only about him. There was a generation of basketball players. Soon others would come onto the scene: Angel Nieto, Mariano Haro, Paquito Fernandez Ochoa, Seve Ballesteros... Lonely heroes, rising up from the few, fed only by pure talent. They expanded the base of our sport.
Minority sports to mainstream celebrities
Looking back, we must thank them for being there when they were, swimming upstream. Like Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, a little later, who as a national figure elevated the status of our women's sport. Today we are living through another reality. We still have football, more than ever, cycling, as much as back then, and boxing, although not to the same extent. But those 'minority sports', which used to be grouped together in newspapers of the day under the common heading of 'multisports', today sit in their own spotlight, glittering titles, huge television audiences and their own section in the papers. And their celebrity figures are as famous as those in football.
50 years gone and an international future ahead
Our sport has been the best message to the world about the change of our country over these last fifty years. This was underlined with those unforgettable Barcelona Olympic Games, 25 years ago, with the then-Prince Felipe as standard-bearer. Last night we had the honour of presiding over the celebratory gala of our 'Golden Anniversary'. It was a happy occasion, full of embraces with many friends, in which through a few we awarded all. It was an event that gives us the strength to continue with our international expansion, which we undertook three years ago with the pioneering spirit of those who fifty years ago rolled out a newspaper with an ambition that drives us forward today.