Spain first competed in the 1900 Olympics in Paris. Since competing in 1920, they have only missed two Olympic games: the 1936 event in Berlin and the 1956 games in Melbourne (the latter in protest against the Soviet Union invading Hungary). They hosted the 1992 games in Barcelona, which readers of a certain age may remember for Linford Christie, Kriss Akabusi and Sally Gunnell. While Spain haven’t been as prolific in the medals table as the UK, they have quietly excelled at specific events.
The Comité Olímpico Español (or COE) puts Spain’s medal total at 141, but the International Olympic Committee puts it at 140. This is because the COE counts a silver medal won for live pigeon shooting in 1900, which the IOE doesn’t recognise. Indeed, the event only took place at the 1900 games. This is not because live pigeon shooting was deemed cruel and outdated, but because there was a cash prize for the event and so it was deemed un-Olympian. This was despite the top four shooters in a separate pigeon shooting competition deciding to split the prize money amongst themselves in a clearly sporting gesture.
You may be surprised to read what sport Spain have the highest medal tally for: it’s sailing.
You may be unsurprised to learn how many Winter Olympic medals Spain have won: it’s two.
In their current Olympic team, the most famous medal winner is Rafael Nadal, the tennis player, who won a Gold in the Men’s doubles event. They have won thirteen medals thus far, with four of those being gold. They have won two golds in canoeing but no medals in sailing as of yet, with gold and bronze medals achieved in swimming.
Clearly, the Spanish take to water like a duck.