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COE and UCAM renew their alliance with an eye on Paris 2024

With the figure of José Luis Mendoza, founder of Universidad Católica, in their memory, both institutions have sealed their commitment to continue cooperating in favour of Spanish athletes with this concept, which is unique in the world

COE and UCAM renew their alliance with an eye on Paris 2024
Alejandro Blanco, María Dolores García and UCAM executives and academics, together with the athletes of the Universidad Católica de Murcia.

The swimmer Mireia Belmonte, the canoeists David Cal and Saúl Craviotto, the badminton player Carolina Marín, the weightlifter Lydia Valentín and the karateka Sandra Sánchez are just some examples of the more than forty Olympic, Paralympic and elite athletes who were present at the act of renewal of the alliance between the Spanish Olympic Committee and the Universidad Católica de Murcia. María Dolores García, UCAM president, and Alejandro Blanco, president of COE, signed the agreement which ensures the continuity of all the work that both institutions have been carrying out in favour of Spanish sport, especially in the aspect of favouring athletes who can combine their higher studies with their sporting career.

This objective was vital for José Luis Mendoza, UCAM founder, who passed away last January, and who was commemorated, missed and paid tribute to during the event.

Alejandro Blanco, who had a profound friendship with José Luis Mendoza, did not hide his emotion at the closing ceremony: ‘José Luis was a force of nature, impossible to control, and a world-class leader. He left a legacy proportional to the number of hearts he touched. He taught us that the things you do for others are the ones which last’. He stressed the importance of maintaining the alliance between the two institutions over time: ‘It is up to us to live on and add to the legacy left to us by José Luis Mendoza. May that legacy never disappear and may we remember him forever’.

During her speech, the president of UCAM stated that ‘the uncertain future of athletes is what moved José Luis to support them for all the effort they had made for their country. The evolution of this alliance between the COE and the UCAM has been incredible, and we didn't think it would get to where it is now. I would like to thank Alejandro for the trust he placed in José Luis. It takes people to get a project off the ground, and without that drive it would not have been possible. We will continue our commitment to support Olympic and non-Olympic sports’, she said.

She also sent a message to athletes to take on their role in society: ‘Perhaps you are not aware of the leadership you have. You represent the true values which can contribute to building a better country’. She concluded by saying that ‘UCAM is at your service. The best tribute to José Luis is that this does not stop’.

COE y UCAM renuevan su alianza con la mirada puesta en París 2024

‘We thank you for staying together; for us, it is as important in the court, as it is out of it’.

This phrase by the race walker Raquel González reflects the most repeated idea expressed by the elite athletes, Olympic, World and European medallists, who took part in the event held in the Goyeneche Auditorium, at the COE headquarters. Canoeist Sául Craviotto, winner of five Olympic medals, highlighted his ‘happiness and gratitude for the fact that the UCAM - COE union continues’ in his speech. Up to twenty athletes took the floor in several turns during the event. Mireia Belmonte, the athlete with whom the union between the Universidad Católica and the Spanish Olympic Committee was promoted, recalled that ‘José Luis held out his hand to me at a very difficult time. I remember it all with so much affection. It was an honour. The family has grown a lot since then and I am very happy about that’.

Along these lines, Carolina Marín, Olympic champion in Rio 2016 in badminton, declared that ‘it is a privilege to be part of this UCAM-COE family, which is helping us in the present and will help us in the future’.

The event was attended by members of the Universidad Católica, such as Josefina García, Rector, Vicente Mendoza, General Director of the University, relatives of its founder, directors and academic leaders. More than forty students from the final year of the Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences, left their classrooms today to attend this event and experience the strength of the union between COE and the University to which they belong first-hand. 

Objective: to extend an impressive track record

The agreement sealed by Alejandro Blanco and María Dolores García ensures the continuity of a unique model in the world which has paid off handsomely in recent years. On a sporting level, in the last two editions of the Olympic Games, UCAM stood out at world level with 19 medallists and 12 diplomas in Rio and 22 medallists and 31 diplomas in Tokyo, records beyond the reach of any other university in the world. 

On an academic level, more and more athletes are combining their higher education studies with their sporting careers thanks to the work of the Universidad Católica in adapting their study needs to their training and competition schedules. Every year more and more athletes graduate thanks to the model generated by this UCAM-COE alliance, which provides them with essential support to face the end of their careers and the dive into the labour market or the world of entrepreneurship with more guarantees.