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Spain appoints Sara Alvarez as Sports Director

23 Jan 2017 20:10

   Gabi Juan / Hajime Judo
2016_Sara_ALvarez

Sara Alvarez is the new Sports Director of the Spanish Judo Federation. The coach is one of the first ever women on earth to take such position. Alvarez (41) won three medals at World Championships as an athlete and coached the Spanish youth teams over the past few years.

For Alvarez it's not of importance that only a few women were technical director, such as Martine Dupond and Brigite Didier in France and coaches in South America. For Spain is the premier of a woman. Alvarez follows up Korean Spaniard Lee Young Joo, who lives in Spain since 1969. Also Korean coach An Jeong-Hwan moved back to Spain where he might be in the Korean team as coach soon.

Alvarez is going to work with a talented Spanish team but obviously wants to go back to the successes of her generation. The successes of the Spanish team started in the early nineties with Miriam Blasco who became World Champion in Spain in 1991 and Olympic Champion in 1992 where also Almudena won the Olympic title. In Atlanta Spain won three Olympic medals, one for Yolanda Soler, coached by Lee Young Joo. Olympic success followed by the Olympic title for Isabel Fernandez in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, who won the world title in 1997 as last Spaniard. Alvarez herself competed at three Olympic Games (1996-2004).

Alvarez won World bronze in 1997 and 1999 and was in the final of 2001 against Gella Vandecaveye (BEL). At European level she had won she had won three European medals until 2003 when she took the title in Düsseldorf and one year later gold in Bucharest.

Alvarez will be active at the Grand Slam in Paris. Her coaches are Kenji Uematsu, Cecilia Blanco who won 4 European medals in Alvarez' generation and Yolanda Soler, who was European Champion in 1994, 1995 and 1996.

In this period Spain have only one athlete in the IJF top 10 with Julia Figueroa, World Number two Maria Bernabeu is close and Fran Garrigos is doing well at senior level. There is space for renewal of the team with four athletes in the top 30, 28 years or older. The last European medal is from 2013. But the new generation is coming with Alberto Gaitero, Nikoloz Sherazadishvili, Sara Rodriguez, Tecla Cadilla and Fran Garrigos who was World Junior Champion in 2014. At senior level Garrigos, Figueroa and Bernabeu booked victories in the IJF World Tour. To ALvarez the task to build out the successes for Spain.

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