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Queralt Castellet wins a silver medal at the Beijing Games

The Spanish Queralt Castellet32 years old the oldest of all the participantsmade history by capturing Olympic silver this Thursday in the snowboard halfpipe at the Beijing 2022 Gamesin a test disputed in zhangjiakou, in which the great favorite, the American Chloe Kim -21-, revalidated the title won four years ago in PyeongChang; where the Barcelonan had achieved, with her seventh place, a diploma.

Queralt, world silver in Kreischberg (Austria)in 2015; and that in the last world championships, those of Aspen (USA) last year, he captured bronze, closed, in his fifth Olympic participation – with which he equaled the Spanish record of winter appearances shared until now by the Andalusian María José Rienda and the Cantabrian Juan Jesús Gutiérrez- his particular sports circle. With six victories -and another eleven podiums- in the World Cup; and one gold and two silvers at the X Gamesthe champion of Sabadell, an example of resilience, captured this Thursday the only medal that resisted her: the Olympic one.

He made it in the halfpipe, snowboard discipline in which the judges value the difficulty, height, breadth and originality of the tricks executed on a track in the form of a half pipe. Obtaining the first medal for Spain in these Games, the twenty-fourth winter; and the fifth winter medal in the entire history of Spanish Olympics.

Chloe Kim, who possibly had already won gold in 2014, in Sochi (Russia), where she was not allowed to compete because she was only 13 years old, did it four years ago in PyeongChang. And this Thursday she simply confirmed her status as absolute dominator of the discipline, revalidating the Olympic title.

He did it, moreover, at the first change; in his first attempt, in which he added the 94 points that nobody improved in the three rounds. In a discipline where he only counts the best of the three scores.

With the gold already decided in favor of the ‘alien’ Kim -who had won the title four years ago in Korea, the land of her grandparents-, the competition between the ‘terrestrials’ remained. And in that section, the Japanese Sena Tomita joined the American and the Catalan on the podium, who became the second Spanish woman, after Blanca Fernández Ochoa -bronze in alpine ski slalom in Albertville’92 (France)- , to win a Winter Olympic trophy.

Paco Fernández Ochoa, from Madrid, brother of the previous one -both already deceased-, had opened the way in 1972 with his gold in the Sapporo slalom, in Japan. Where he starred in the great ‘bombshell’ of the first winter date on Asian soil.

Asia is very good at Spanish winter sports, because the other two Olympic medals, bronze, that Spain had to date, were won four years ago in PyeongChang (South Korea) by Regino Hernández, from the Andalusian federation, in snowboard boader cross; and the figure skater from Madrid Javier Fernández.

This Thursday, Queralt captured the missing metal: silver. He did it after a shaky start, in which he didn’t get past PIR 7 (69.25 points) in the first round.

Fourth in Thursday’s qualifying that decided the twelve finalists, Castellet ‘ironed’ her exercise in the second. A descent in which she advanced five positions and with which she managed that no one snatched a well-deserved Olympic silver from her: the fruit of many years’ work.

The Japanese Sena Tomita, whose sister, Ruki, was fifth, behind the Chinese Xuetong Cai -gold in the 2017 Sierra Nevada World Championships, in Spain- also cemented her bronze in the second act, in which she ‘took’ the podium to the local athlete.

The third round did not change the final podium of a historic race for Spain.

“I’m excited, I’m very happy; it’s been an incredible day; I got the medal. Yuuuhh!!”exclaimed Queralt, in statements provided to Efe from Zhangjiakou by the Royal Spanish Federation of Winter Sports (RFEDI).

“It was incredible, I started a little badly and then all the nerves came to me, but I was able to get the round I wanted, in the second round, a round that I have been working for a long, long time. Many years. I’m very happy,” Queralt said as soon as he captured the silver medal. She who, coming from gymnastics, she ‘recycled’ to snowboarding and at 16 years old she debuted, as the youngest of that Spanish delegation, at the 2006 Turin Games, in Italy.

Since then, and going through the Olympic diploma four years ago, the Barcelona star, an example of resilience, had tried again and again.

The closest time she had been was in 2010, at the Vancouver Games (Canada), where she had been the flag bearer for Spain for the first time -in Beijing she repeated the honor, sharing it with another Barcelonan, the skeleton pilot Ander Mirambell-; her when she was in medal positions after the first of the two rounds that then made up the development of this discipline.

Queralt was third at Cypress Mountain, on the outskirts of the capital of the capital of British Columbia: but fell while exercising between rounds, hitting his head. He slightly lost consciousness and the judges, applying the regulations and out of medical precaution, did not allow him to dispute the second and decisive descent.

The road has been long, hard and complicated. Watered by injuries and setbacks that reached their worst moment with the death, after the Sochi Games, in 2014 of the one who, in addition to his coach, was his partner: the New Zealander Ben Jolly.

This Thursday, Castellet -eleventh in Sochi-, touched the sky. A sky that in China became Olympic silver; making a dream come true. And putting Spain back on the world map of winter sports.


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