modiIberia Talento a bordo Team

The Goal: Paris

12/12/2022 · By Roberto C. Rascón
The Iberia Talento a bordo Team sets sail for Paris with the highest expectations
The Iberia Talento a bordo Team sets sail for Paris with the highest expectations.

Iberia, as part of its Talento a bordo initiative, has brought together a team of 13 Olympic and Paralympic athletes to support them on their path towards the Paris Olympics. From emerging to renowned talents, from taekwondo to climbing, from Cáceres to Barcelona, this diverse group is an inspiration to all.

Iberia supports Spanish sports, proof of this is the creation of the Iberia Talento a bordo Team. A group of athletes from less visible disciplines like sailing, canoeing, or judo, among others, who have already set their sights on the next Olympics and Paralympics. The path to Paris is not easy, it involves many hours of training and hard work. With this initiative, Iberia aims to support them and encourage them in their daily efforts. In short, for their talent to take flight. So, the company will give them a grant during the olympiad and, they’ll also benefit from the advantages of the Iberia Plus Oro card on their journeys.

Creating this team is part of the airline’s Talento a bordo project, a strong commitment to supporting and promoting different aspects of Spanish culture and sport internationally. During the team’s presentation, Javier Sánchez-Prieto, president of Iberia, acknowledged that these athletes are a great inspiration for the company itself and how proud he is to support them. He also recalled that this initiative has a successful precedent, as five members of the team won medals in Tokyo.

To get to know the different members of the team better, Iberia has started a six-episode series (The Goal: París) during which the athletes will meet up and share their hopes and dreams, but also their worries and concerns on their path to Games. But, before that, we need to introduce you to the twelve members of the Iberia Talento a bordo Team.

Silvia Mas (Sailing)

With the wind in her sails, that’s how the career of Silvia Mas (Barcelona, 1996) has advanced since she started competing in the Optimist category in 2011 until she, alongside Patricia Cantero, won the gold medal at the 470 World Championship held in Vilamoura (Portugal) in 2021. A victory that, together with fellow medallist Nico Rodríguez now, makes her a favourite to win in Paris.

Alberto Ginés (Climbing)

Sports climbing made its debut at the Tokyo Olympic Games and Alberto Ginés (Cáceres, 2002) made history by becoming the first to win in this discipline. And at the tender age of 18! Ratifying his title in Paris will be no easy feat, but his mental strength, acquired from climbing since he was three and reinforced when he had to leave his family at the age of 15 to move to Sant Cugat, will be his main ally.

Irene Sánchez Escribano (Athletics)

Obstacles are part of the life of Irene Sánchez Escribano (Toledo, 1992), and we don’t just mean the hurdles or water pits she has to overcome every time she competes in 3000 metres steeplechase, but also the injury —a fracture to her left foot— that left her on the threshold of the Tokyo Olympic Games. A major blow the athlete hopes to make up for in Paris.

Ray Zapata (Artistic Gymnastics)

Born in the Dominican Republic, Ray Zapata (Santo Domingo, 1993) is one of the best gymnasts in the world in the floor exercise discipline. The silver medal he won at the Tokyo Olympics confirms this. A medal that wasn’t gold because of a tie breaker rule —the Israeli Dolgopiat achieved the same score: 14.933— that the gymnast didn’t know about until it happened. In Paris, Ray is looking for a rematch.

Rodrigo Conde (Rowing)

The new hope of Spanish rowing has a name and surname: Rodrigo Conde ( Moaña, 1997). During 2022, the Galician athlete has placed himself at the height of the best in both the European Rowing Championships in Račice and the World Rowing Championships in Munich. In both events, he came up short, finishing second in the double scull category. His dream is to reach Paris and, this time, to win the gold medal.

Hugo González de Oliveira (Swimming)

The everyday life of Hugo González de Oliveira (Palma de Mallorca, 1999) is based in the United States, where he studies computer engineering and is training to become one of the best swimmers in the world. He has won the Junior World Championships four times, and in 2021 he proved his potential by winning three medals at the European Aquatics Championships in Budapest: gold in 200 metres individual medley, silver in 100 metres backstroke, and bronze in 50 metres backstroke.

Niko Shera (Judo)

Nikoloz Sherazadishvili (Tiflis, 1996), better known as Niko Shera, landed at the Tokyo Olympics as the most recent world champion and number one in the world ranking for his category, but things didn’t go as planned, and he finished in seventh place. The images of a devastated Niko at the birthplace of judo will be easily forgotten when he conquers Paris.

Antía Jácome (Canoeing)

Spanish canoeing in calm waters can remain so thanks to the figure of Antía Jácome (Pontevedra, 1999). This canoeist from Galicia, who won silver at the 2021 World Championships in Copenhague and gold at the 2022 European Championships in Munich, will reach Paris as one of the queens in her speciality (C1), willing to follow the trail of other great Spanish canoeists, like Teresa Portela or Maialen Chourraut.

Gerard Descarrega (Paralympic Athletics)

When he was four, Gerard Descarrega (Reus, 1994) was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, which made him gradually lose his eyesight. But no adversity will stop him... In 2016, he won the gold medal at the Rio Paralympics (400 metres), a success he ratified in Tokyo. Recently, as proof of his urge to excel, he became the first blind athlete to hit the summit of Mount Kenya.

Adriana Cerezo (Taekwondo)

At the tender age of 17, Adriana Cerezo (Alcalá de Henares, 2003) became one of the main protagonists in the Spanish expedition during the Tokyo Olympic Games. And not just because of the silver medal she won, but also because of the lively attitude with which she faced the entire competition: always smiling from ear to ear, even after losing the final against Thai taekwondo athlete Panipak Wongpattanakit.

Diego García Carrera (Athletics)

Race walking always brings joy to Spanish sport. As it happens, at the recent European Athletics Championships in Munich, this discipline won Spain three medals: two golds belonging to Miguel Ángel López and Álvaro Martín, and the bronze to Diego García Carrera (Madrid, 1996) in the 20 kilometres walk category. This walker, who made sixth place in Tokyo, will reach Paris at his full sporting potential and has big aspirations.

Sarai Gascón (Paralympic Swimming)

Sarai Gascón (Terrasa, 1992) has eight Paralympic medals —six silvers and two bronzes— on her track record. Her collection is just missing one metal, the gold she’s hoping to win at the Paris Paralympics, the fifth Games in her career —this Catalan athlete made her debut at the age of 16 at Beijing 2008, where she brought home a silver medal—. Born without her left hand and forearm, she’s an example of perseverance.

Marcus Cooper (Canoeing)

Marcus Cooper (Oxford, 1994), gold medallist in Rio (K1 1000) and silver in Tokyo (K4 500), along with Saúl Craviotto, Carlos Arévalo and Rodrigo Germade, is the main candidate to be the flag bearer for the Spanish delegation at the Paris Games. Raised in Mallorca, where he was forged as a canoeist, over time he has rounded off a spectacular record: three golds, four silvers and a bronze at the World Championships, to which he has added two European golds and a silver.