Rio 2016

Spain’s Olympic kayak hero only just became ‘Spanish’

Spain's Olympic kayak hero only just became 'Spanish'
Marcus Cooper Walz won a fifth gold for Spain. Photo: AFP
Marcus Cooper Walz won Spain’s fifth gold medal of the Rio games on Tuesday in the men’s canoe single K1, 1,000m competition, but he only became officially Spanish a year ago.

Born in Oxford to a German mother and a British father tall blond and blue-eyed Cooper Walz has been living on the island of Mallorca where his parents run a hotel, since he was three years old.

But it was only last summer, with his Olympic dreams in sight, that the 21-year-old rower finally won Spanish nationality, after competiting for Spain for years.

“The International Olympics Committee doesn’t allow you to represent a country without a passport and the nationalisation process has taken me four or five years,” the newly-crowned Olympic Kayaking champion told sports newspaper AS.

“My heart is Spanish and I'm very proud,” he said, on winning the gold.

Mireia Belmonte-Garcia brought home Spain's first gold of the Rio games with victory in the women's 200m butterfly, while Maialen Chourraut won gold in the kayak slalom and made history as the first Spanish mother to win an olympic medal.

Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopéz won gold for Spain in the tennis doubles.

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