Home » Sport » Sandra Sánchez, Maialen Chourraut and Teresa Portela, the veterans’ rebellion in Tokyo

Sandra Sánchez, Maialen Chourraut and Teresa Portela, the veterans’ rebellion in Tokyo

Veterans but well prepared. This 2021 that gives its last blows has left us a good handful of stories with some Tokyo Olympics held at the wrong time due to Covid-19. What could be a problem for older people, seeing their preparation upset and competing with one more year in tow, has turned out to be a double-edged sword. At least when it comes to Spanish women’s sports. One thing is clear: they are going to make it extremely difficult for the new generations.

That age is only a figure that appears on the DNI was captured last summer by Sandra Sánchez, Maialen Chourraut Y Teresa Portela. Between the three they were 116 years old at the time they got into the drawer in the Japanese capital. One gold in karate and two silvers in full-sacrifice canoeing and many peculiarities.

Sandra Sánchez (Talavera de la Reina, September 16, 1981) was proclaimed champion in the kata modality. The first in history, since karate made its debut in some Games. The woman from Toledo signed the only female individual gold for the Spanish delegation in Tokyo. He also hung it up Fatima Galvez in Olympic shooting, although he did it in a mixed discipline together with Alberto Fernandez.

And what is a kata? The word means “shape” in Japanese. It is a kind of imaginary combat, karatekas do not compete with an opponent but against themselves. They perform movements, steps, turns and techniques seeking perfection in their execution. exist 102 katas recognized by the World Karate Federation. The athletes choose one and put it into practice on the mat.

A captivating choreography in which Sánchez develops with a serious expression that does not fit the rest of his daily life. “I take with me a little elf, funny, mischievous and playful, full of dreams and illusions.” This is how Toledo begins to be described on its website.

Hello and goodbye

She was planted in the Games as the great favorite to gold, chains five years leading the world ranking, and complied. He was fighting the pressure, he had won a lot throughout his career, but the Games are impressive. Especially if it is a martial art and the setting is a cradle like Japan. To make matters worse, Sánchez won the local team in the final Kiyou Shimizu by a few tenths.

The kata modality was the most successful for Spain in Tokyo, since Damien Quintero He took silver in the male category. The bad news is for the future and is that karate is provisionally out of the Paris 2024 Olympic program and much has to turn the tables for it to repeat in future editions. It seems to have been a hello and goodbye.

But that they take away the dance from Sánchez. It showed that it is never too late if kata is good. His 2021 has been glorious. He has not even left the crumbs. Champion of Europe, from Spain, in the Games, of the circuit of the Premier League and, to top it all off, also in the world held just over a month ago in Dubai.

In the guinness

The one from Talavera de la Reina, which in 2018 was recognized as the best karateka in history in kata by the World Federation, has entered the latest edition of the Guinness Book of Records for his number of medals on the world circuit, the Karate 1 Premier League. In the last seven years he has collected 37 metals: 19 gold, 10 silver and eight bronze. He hasn’t stepped off a podium since January 2015.

A prize for perseverance and certainly unexpected. Because Sánchez did not become part of the Spanish team until the 32 years. At the age of 20, the doors of the High Performance Center opened for her, but a month later her mother was diagnosed with cancer and she returned home to spend time with her. He continued training, although the Federation did not have his services.

Went to live in Australia, where she gave after-school karate classes to children, and also spent time in Dubai after a club saw potential in her and recruited her alongside her coach, Jesus del Moral, who today is her husband. There began to change the career of this fan of Son Goku, who is used to wearing the famous dragon balls as an amulet to competitions. Did he make a wish from the dragon?

Chourraut y Portela

From a rookie in the Games like Sánchez to two classic canoeists like Maialen Chourraut (Lasarte-Oria, March 8, 1983) and Teresa Portela (Cangas de Morrazo, May 5, 1982). Both were awarded a silver medal. The woman from Gipuzkoa did it in whitewater, in slalom K1; and pontevedresa, in K1 200 meters in calm waters.

For Chourraut it was the third medal of his career and completing the collection. It was bronze in London 2012 and won gold in Rio 2016, becoming the first Spanish Olympic champion after being a mother. Three metals in four competitions in a Games, of Beijing 2008 left empty.

Maialen Chourraut celebrates her silver in Tokyo with her coach and husband, Xabier Etxaniz. EFE


It was an especially tough cycle for the canoeist. Some vertigo tortured her for a year, she also suffered pain in her ribs, she was forced to change kayak due to a change in the International Federation regulations and, in addition, the pressure of having won gold in Brazil weighed a lot for a Chourraut shy and, above all, very familiar. But once in Tokyo she felt liberated and offered her best version.

The one from Lasarte-Oria slipped into the final with the seventh best time, out of a total of ten, with which she had to make a perfect descent in the channel and wait. It is not a lottery, but countless factors influence when going through each door without knocking. Skill, precision, strength and experience. And this played in Chourraut’s favor. It was a complicated circuit, with strange currents, however he made a mark and the pressure was taking over with all his rivals. Except with the German Ricarda Funk, which took the gold.

Chourraut, international since 2001, was honored upon her return to the beach of The Shell of San Sebastián. In the same place where his relationship with canoeing began at the age of 12. The future is unknown, yes, he admits that he would be excited to be in Paris 2024 and he will fight for it.

Their daughters

A thorn was left to Chourraut. And is that her daughter could not accompany her in Japan as she had done five years before in Brazil. Restrictions due to the pandemic prevented it. A pain shared by Portela. Naira he was not with her in Tokyo either. Of course, the two little girls released tons of energy from a distance so that their mothers would bring them a souvenir of the Games in the form of a medal.

Teresa Portela, at the end of the test in which she won the silver medal in Tokyo. EFE


The one from Cangas attended its sixth Olympic event. From Sydney 2000, in which she traveled to live the experience as if she were a tourist, until Tokyo 2020, where she took the silver. The very path that she has traveled is already history because Portela is the first Spanish woman to have participated in six editions of the Games. But the thing is that he also got on a podium that he had been around since 2004. He has even five diplomas: she was fifth in Athens twice (K2 500m and K4 500m), fifth in Beijing (K4 500m), fourth in London (K1 200m) and sixth in Rio (K1 200m).

The second place in Tokyo came with a lot of suffering. To begin with because he was one step away from being left out in the semifinals. He competed with the first four of the last World Cup and it was done, by thousandths, with the last ticket. In the final everything was very tight, how could it be otherwise in such a short and explosive race. Portela was second, behind the New Zealander Carrington and ahead of the danish Jorgensen.

Like Chourraut, the Galician woman does not put on any roof and casts her eyes on Paris. If participating in six Olympic Games is outrageous, seven is from another world. Of course, your closest challenge will be on television. Portela will give the chimes and he will eat the grapes on New Year’s Eve on Galicia Television.

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