by Leon Clarke and Tyler Dandridge
We started the day with Xavier Ballius, who is the science, training, and medicine head for C.A.R., a high performance training center located right outside of Barcelona. Xavier walked us through the organization’s mission and structure, the functional components of sports, health, and education, as well as the clientele that they serve. Due to funding, and support from outside government agencies, C.A.R is able to serve area and international athletes with one of the most superior training facilities in the world.
Following the lecture, Xavier took us on a tour of the facilities, including the two Olympic style swimming pools, outdoor tennis courts, a gymnastics facility, and a magnificent weight lifting area. One of the first things we got to witness was some of the athletes who participated in synchronized swimming. It was really cool watching them practice and it put into perspective of how much time and preparation they put in. The next part of the facility tour was the table tennis training room. Table tennis is a not a spectator sport in the United States and is more recreational than competitive. In Spain and other European countries, it’s more mainstream and popular. The mission and vision of CAR will not doubt produce future Olympians for Spain and other countries for years to come.
After a quick lunch break, we explored Barcelona’s Olympic legacy. We traveled to Mountjueic, the site of the Olympic Stadium and the Museu Olimpic i de l’Esport, which has a breathtaking view that overlooks all of Barcelona
In the museum’s auditorium, we heard from two knoweldgeable guest speakers. Dr. Chris Kennett, a professor and researcher on behalf of the Olympic Studies Center, spoke in depth about the ’92 Olympics in Barcelona. The ’92 Games were a successful operation that transformed Barcelona into one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Dr. Kennet also talked about how the Olympics helped boost the economy of Barcelona. It’s well documented many host countries have struggled post-Olympics, both on financial impact and sustainability.
The next speaker, Dawn Hiscock, went more in depth on how the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona really helped the city in sport tourism. Just last year in January 2016 through October 2016 Barcelona had 16 million foreign tourists. The impact has been so considerable, one study claims Barcelona is the second most sport oriented city in the world. Dawn went on to explain the benefits of having a mega event like the Olympics in a city like Barcelona. Some of the benefits included increased economic growth through filled hotels, restaurants and retail establishments, youth opportunities and entertainment, exposure, and positive images for your community.
The museum relives the greatest moments in Olympic history through artifacts, memorabilia and multi-media displays. A winding, downward spiral path takes you through a journey of Olympic history, culminating in the 1992 Barcelona Games and a tribute to Juan Antonio Samaranch, a Barcelona native who was the head of the International Olympic Committee and largely responsible for pushing Barcelona for the 1992 Games.
We walked across the street to the Olympic Stadium used for the opening and closing ceremonies and track and field in 1992. The stadium us used mostly for soccer now and other special events like concerts.
We finished the day gazing out over Barcelona from the many lookouts on Mountjuic. It’s a memorable view that does justice to the memorable day we concluded.