2016 is already part of the history of Spanish sport because of the great results obtained by our athletes. The seat of the Spanish Olympic Committee was the scene of the annual gala, in which the best of each year is rewarded and because of the 2016 Olympic success, this celebration is a special one. The heroes of Rio, who won 17 medals, were recognized for their efforts and successes in the Olympic events, but also recognized, was the work of those who support and sustain our sport and are an essential part of the great achievements.
José Luis Mendoza, President of UCAM, collected the award from the hands of Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, Minister of Education, Culture and Sport, who rewards the university institution for its commitment to sport. The Catholic University of Murcia (UCAM) is doing a great job of helping athletes in two ways: on the one hand, the scholarships and the sports tutoring that allows them to combine higher studies with their sports career, and on the other hand, the economic patronage that provides an indispensable aid so that they can focus on its objectives. This work, which had been boosted in the last Olympic cycle (since 2012), has had a special recognition by the COE since fifteen of the seventeen medals achieved in Spanish sports during the Olympic Games in Río 2016 had participation of athletes and students of UCAM; an unprecedented landmark that places the Catholic University of Murcia as the great reference of European university sport. In addition, we must acknowledge the nine Paralympic medals also achieved by UCAM athletes who helped to achieve our “dream games.”
To remember all that has been achieved and to start with enthusiasm and energy, the new Olympic cycle that sets the course for Tokyo 2020, the Spanish Olympic family met at the headquarters of the COE to deliver some very special prizes, which recognized the best of the year. There were also the Olympic medalists of UCAM: Mireia Belmonte, Saul Craviotto, Ruth Beitia, Maialen Chourraut, Cristian Toro, Marcus Cooper Walz, Artemi Gavezou, Eva Calvo, Lidia Valentín, Joel González and Carlos Coloma. Of the medalists of the UCAM, Carolina Marín and Laura Gil were the only ones missing, who are competing and could not attend the event. Mariano Rajoy, President of the Government, presided over the event and in his speech, highlighted the importance of, "the work of companies and institutions in supporting the sport. I encourage you to continue on this path because it is good for athletes, good for companies and is good for Spain.” Jose Luis Mendoza, president of UCAM, was very grateful for the recognition made by the COE, adding that, “for us it is a pride to help athletes focus on their competitions, while at the same time maintains a livelihood in addition to their studies." Along these lines, Alejandro Blanco, president of the COE, emphasized that "UCAM is an example for its model of teaching and support of sport."