By CAPosts 13 October, 2020 - 07:24am 352 views
This morning the Government awarded Rafael Nadal the highest decoration for an athlete in Spain, the Grand Cross of the Order of Sports Merit. He does so after the manacorí added his 20th Grand Slam by winning Roland Garros for the thirteenth time in his career . The spokesman minister, Maria Jesus Montero, stressed that the tennis player is a "national pride" and one of the best athletes in history. "This distinction does not come only because of the undoubted sporting merits of one of the best athletes in the world, but because it brings together the values and youth references that allow us to be better as a society," Montero said at the press conference. This award, the highest for a Spanish athlete, surpasses the Gold Medal of the Order of Sporting Merit that he received in 2006, when he was 20 years old, but had already won the Roland Garros clay twice . The person who gave him the distinction was the then Secretary of State for Sports of the Zapatero Government, Jaime Lissavetzky, who has described the tennis player as the best Spanish athlete of all time on several occasions. In 2008, one of the most successful years of his career, with victories at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the Beijing Olympic Games , he received the Prince of Asturias Award for Sport. To the endless recognitions that he treasures, we must add that he has been chosen as the standard bearer of the Spanish delegation for the Olympic Games on two occasions, 2012 and 2016 . The first date he missed due to a knee injury, but the second time he was the one who led the Spanish expedition in Rio. Nadal becomes part of a select group of Spanish athletes who, as stated in the bases of the award, have achieved "excellence". The last to receive it was the former Barcelona player Andrés Iniesta, in 2018, when he left the Catalan capital after 16 years and 30 titles, highlighting the 2010 World Cup, to go to spend his last days as a professional in Japan. In 2015, Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernández, referents of the all-champion team, received the Grand Cross of the Order of Sports Merit. Other outstanding athletes such as Alfredo Di Stefano or David Cal have also received the distinction. The organization of Roland Garros has confirmed that it will place a statue of the Spaniard in the center court of Paris, the Philippe Chartier, one of the recognitions that makes Nadal the most illusion. From the Government of Spain they have wanted to join the wave of admiration for the tennis player and promote him to the highest category of Spanish sport. “It is an exceptional both on and off the slopes. It is an honor to pass on this distinction to him ”, stated Montero.