Spanish sport

Young stars

01/09/2023 · By Javi de Munck
Hugo González swimming
The new crop of Spanish athletes is loaded with talent and promises great things to come in the next few years.

Behind sweet triumphs lie many hours of hard work and training. Because top-level sports require talent and more: the ability to fall and get up again and again. Mindsets that are built through sacrifice and ambition. These are twelve young athletes who want to write their names in the history of Spanish sports.

Spanish sport, thanks to athletes like Rafa Nadal, Carolina Marín, Pau Gasol, Mireia Belmonte or Fernando Alonso, is experiencing a golden age. But the inevitable question arises: who’ll come after them? Let’s go over the names of some of the young talents that are expected to bring a lot of joy in the coming years. They’re ready to take over!

Claudia Pina (2001) – Football
One of the gems of Spanish football. This striker became the youngest player to make her debut at FC Barcelona —at the age of 16 and 5 months— at the beginning of 2018. That same year, she helped Spain win the Under-17 World Cup and was awarded the Ballon d’Or. After a short stint in Seville, she returned to Barça for the 21/22 season to score 18 goals and reclaim her place at one of the best teams in the world.

Alberto Ginés (2002) – Climbing
Member of the Iberia Talento a bordo Team

Sports climbing made its debut at the Tokyo Games and this climber from Cáceres made history by becoming the first to win gold in this discipline. At just 18! And he continues onwards and upwards, because in 2022 he won two bronze medals at the European Championships in Munich. His mental strength, acquired since he started climbing when he was three and reinforced when he had to leave his family at the age of 15 to move to Sant Cugat, is his main ally.

Jaël Bestué (2000) – Athletics
Can Spanish runners dream of medals at major championships? The answer is yes, thanks to this athlete from Barcelona with a Guinean father. She started running at the age of 13 and, since then, has beaten records in all categories. She’s such an early bloomer that at the age of 16 she won silver at the IAAF U18 World Youth Championships in Athletics, and she already won the gold for 200 metres at the Spanish Championships before turning 18.

Usman Garuba (2002) – Basketball
Of Nigerian descent, he started playing in Azuqueca de Henares until he caught the attention of Real Madrid in 2013. Thanks to Pablo Laso, in 2018 he made the leap to the first team, and in 2021 the Houston Rockets chose him as number 23 in the first round of the draft, when he immediately packed his bags to go to the NBA. At the same time, he made his debut with the Spanish national team and played his first Eurobasket last September.

Antía Jácome (1999) - Canoeing
Member of the Iberia Talento a bordo Team

Spanish canoeing in calm waters can remain so. This canoeist from Pontevedra, who won silver at the 2021 World Championships in Copenhagen 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.

Sergio Íbañez (1999) – Paralympic judo
This judoka from Zaragoza, who has a visual impairment of 79%, brought home a silver medal from his first Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Only the Uzbek Kuranbaev stood in his way during a close combat. The most fascinating thing about Sergio is that he also competes at the highest level against able-bodied opponents. In fact, in 2018 he was proclaimed the absolute champion in Spain for the -60kg category.

Andrea Miguélez (2003) – Paralympic triathlon
Paralympic triathlon has a new star that’s aiming for a medal in Paris. At the tender age of 19, this child prodigy is a two-time winner of the World and European Championships in the PTS4 category. Andrea was born with an Arnold-Chiari malformation, a rare disease with some side effects, including paraesthesia in her left hand. Her passion for triathlon is a family affair: her father, mother and brother are all members of the Spanish federation.

Hugo González de Oliveira (1999) - Swimming
Member of the Iberia Talento a bordo Team

The everyday life of this athlete is based in the University of California, 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.

Erica Sanz (2003) – Gymnastics
This athlete from Valladolid, who has trained with her mother since an early age, has made a niche for herself in one of the least well-known disciplines in gymnastics, trampoline. After winning several medals in junior categories, her turn to compete against seniors came in 2022, and she didn’t disappoint. In fact, alongside her teammates, she won the gold at Trampoline European Championships in Rimini and, individually, the Spanish Championships.

Dani Rincón (2003) – Tennis
When we think about the future of Spanish tennis, the first name that comes to mind is Carlos Alcaraz. But we shouldn’t forget about this tennis player from Avila who grew up at the Rafa Nadal Academy. In 2021, at the age of 18, he became the second Spaniard to win the Junior US Open —the first was Javier Sánchez Vicario in 1986. And in 2022 he started playing tournaments in the professional circuit.

Adriana Cerezo (2003) - Taekwondo
Member of the Iberia Talento a bordo Team

At the tender age of 17, she became one of the main protagonists in the Spanish delegation during the Tokyo Games. And not just because of the silver medal she won, but also because of the good vibes she conveyed throughout the entire competition, even after losing the final at the last second. In 2022, she won bronze both at the European Championships in Manchester and the Grand Prix in Riad, which gathered the best taekwondo athletes in the world.

Juan Ayuso (2002) – Cycling
One of the greatest hopes for Spanish cycling, this cyclist is called to continue the legacy of Alberto Contador or recently retired Alejandro Valverde. Born in Barcelona, he leads a promising generation: Carlos Rodríguez, Raúl García Pierna, Íñigo Elosegui... He ended 2022, his first professional season, climbing the podium of the Vuelta a España. No small feat.