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Paris 2024: Upcoming Target of the UCAM-COE Alliance

Eleven sportsmen and women have joined the University of Sport, including MotoGP rider Pedro Acosta

The president of the Catholic University, María Dolores García, and Alejandro Blanco, president of the COE, pose with the new UCAM athletes.
The president of the Catholic University, María Dolores García, and Alejandro Blanco, president of the COE, pose with the new UCAM athletes.

The countdown has begun. Athletes all over the world are ticking off the days on their calendars with their sights set on the big goal of their lives: the Olympic Games. Paris 2024 kicks off on 26 July and many have already secured their passports for the most eagerly awaited sporting event. Others are taking their chances to secure their attendance this summer in the French capital.

The alliance formed by the Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia (UCAM) and the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE in Spanish) is experiencing its third Games after the great successes achieved in Rio 16 and Tokyo 20. With Paris 24 fast approaching, the COE offices hosted a presentation ceremony today, Wednesday, for the new athletes who have joined the UCAM sports family: Elia Canales (archery), Laura Heredia (modern pentathlon), Manuel Bargues (fencing), Víctor Ruiz (athletics), Patricia Álvarez and Constanza Amundson (hockey), Adrián del Río (canoeing), Alejandro Puebla (open water swimming), María de Valdés (swimming) and Laura Fuertes (boxing). With them, Pedro Acosta (motorcycling).

They thus join the Universidad Católica's sporting family, which includes more than 6,000 athletes, from the grassroots to the elite, and more than 450 top-level sportsmen and women with scholarships. Among the degrees they will be studying at UCAM are degrees in Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, Psychology, Veterinary Science, Early Childhood Education and Marketing and Commercial Management. 

Alejandro Blanco, COE President, María Dolores García, UCAM President, and José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, Secretary of State for Sport, presided over the ceremony. According to the COE president, this project ‘is very good for our country and our society. The UCAM is doing something that no other university in the world does’. In the same vein, the president of the UCAM recalled the seed of this alliance ‘with the relationship that was forged between José Luis Mendoza and Alejandro Blanco,’ stressing that ‘the key to success lies with the athletes. The ability to overcome physical limits and have the discipline to study after training has incredible merit’. 

Presentation at the headquarters of the Spanish Olympic Committee

 Presentation at the headquarters of the Spanish Olympic Committee 

Rodríguez Uribes highlighted the role of both institutions and recalled the role of the UCAM founder: ‘I want to thank José Luis Mendoza, who was so dear to us and whom we remember so fondly, for planting the seed of this project. Good things must be done and then they must bear fruit,’ adding that ‘this is a unique project, which aims to support athletes. It is a commitment to sporting excellence and to academic and employment excellence. When we talk about sport and UCAM, we are talking about values’.

The newcomers to the family were joined by some eminent names in Spanish sport: canoeists David Cal (winner of five Olympic medals) and Marcus Cooper (two Olympic medals), Adriana Cerezo (Olympic runner-up in taekwondo), Lydia Valentín (triple Olympic medallist in weightlifting), Damián Quintero (Olympic runner-up in karate), Alberto Fernández (Olympic champion in shooting) and María Pérez (European and world champion in race walking).

At the Rio Games, more than fifty members of the Spanish team were UCAM members, winning 15 Olympic medals and 9 Paralympic medals, making it the second university in the world with the most medals, just behind Stanford (United States). In Tokyo, 80 members of the UCAM (including Olympians, Paralympians, technicians and doctors) were part of the Spanish team, making it the university with the most representatives in the world, with 22 medallists and 31 diplomas.  

Pedro Acosta, excited about the UCAM - COE project and his debut in MotoGP

The MotoGP rider, Pedro Acosta, who recently joined the UCAM, will not be in Paris, as his discipline is not Olympic, yet he was very happy to be surrounded by great champions like him, to join the University of Sport and for his debut in the premier class of the World Championship: ‘I'm delighted. It's a year of learning, we're putting ourselves at the level of the best and I'll be looking for a surprise’.