Spanish sport’s successes... in tandem with AS'
When the previous author of this column, Alfredo Relaño, began his new role as Editor-in-chief at AS in 1996, Spanish sport had already started to break fresh ground with the 22 medals won at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Added to the long-established successes of football clubs like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, new sports heroes emerged such as Federico Martín Bahamontes, Manolo Santana, Paco Fernández Ochoa, Ángel Nieto, Andrés Gimeno, Pedro Delgado, Miguel Indurain, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Conchita Martínez, Severiano Ballesteros, Sergi Bruguera... and the Spanish national team which won the European Championships in 1964 and the basketball team which took on the United States in the 1984 Olympic final. In spite of all that, there was always a lingering, bittersweet sensation that those successes were merely glorious exceptions to the norm, individual feats and not the satisfying result of a solid and organized structure dedicated to sport. At that time, AS was a printed daily newspaper with their main newsroom in Madrid; all of that was soon to change.
Spain's sporting successes
Today, Spanish sport and AS are both prospering. For example in tennis, with Roland Garros currently in progress in Paris, we’ve picked up 31 individual Grand Slam titles during the Open era - 17 of those were won by Rafael Nadal, and five Copa Davis salad bowls. Spain now possesses 154 Olympic medals - 46 of them gold medals. Spanish clubs dominate Europe with 76 international titles - 18 of them in the Champions League, a field almost exclusively commanded by Real Madrid who have 13 Big Ears in their trophy cabinet. The men’s national football team have been crowned European champions again (2008 and 2012) together with their triumph at 2010 World Cup South Africa with the best generation of football talent this country has ever seen.
In basketball, our national team remained faithful to the legacies left by household names such as Epi, Fernando Martín, Sibilio and Romay by lifting the World Cup in Japan in 2006; Gasol and company also lifted three Eurobasket titles and picked up two Olympic silver medals. At club level, our teams have won over 50 European and intercontinental tournaments – an achievement which speaks volumes about the good work which has been done since the days of Pedro Ferrándiz’s great Real Madrid side. And handball has not been left behind – the Spanish team has won two World Cups, one European Championship and 15 European trophies at club level with FC Barcelona leading the way.
In motorsport, our sports stars haven’t let us down either – thanks to Fernando Alonso’s back-to-back Formula 1 Championships and our 50 Grand Prix champions in the various different classes. Our sport is in such a sweet moment that we were even treated to the luxury of seeing our rugby team beat the All Blacks in sevens as well as our sportsmen and women competing in in world and Olympic tournaments in events such as weight-lifting (Lydia Valentín) and badminton (Carolina Marín).
AS in the digital age
AS has fought and won many battles during the same time. That intaglio-printed newspaper founded by the Montiel family 51 years ago is now one of the largest platforms delivering sports information in the world. Apart from the daily print edition, the 10 digital editions of AS currently up and running in four continents generate over 10,000 news pieces per month in multiple formats (1,500 of them in videos) and in three languages (Spanish, English and Arabic). That content is accessed by 11.7 million people online. AS’ digital service attracts 23.7 and 44.7 million visits and unique users respectively.
The printed newspaper commands 48% of its total audience in Spain, 44% in Latin America and the United States and 8% in the rest of the world. Almost 40% of its employees are based abroad. The printed newspaper is produced in 12 editions and has six delegations in Spain. It is the leading sports publication in seven autonomous regions and in 20 provinces nationally.
AS has shown solidarity for the successes enjoyed by Spanish athletes and has done so with great professionalism. There is still a lot of work to be done, ideas to develop, trophies to be lifted and medals to win. In the sports press we work with the materials that dreams are made of. It is our responsibility to be at the top of our own game on a human and professional level to be part of the team which enables this newspaper to be produced every day. That is the underlying spirit which has helped AS to grow and thrive.