OLYMPICS / Barcelona 1992: Much ado about Spanish success

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SPAIN'S incredible success in Barcelona - three times as many gold medals in one Games as in the entire history of the Olympics - is not all down to the passion of local support.

It has more than a little to do with four years of careful planning, and, much more importantly, investment.

The Association of Olympic Sports (ADO) was set up immediately Barcelona was awarded the Games to make sure that home competitiors put up a decent show, and the results have been astounding. ADO persuaded 23 companies to part with dollars 1m (pounds 530,000) a year in return for sponsorship rights to the Spanish team.

So ADO's technical director, Fernando Sanchez Banuelos, was jusitifiably delighted. 'Ninety per cent of the Spanish success in the Olympic Games is down to the ADO. In the smaller sports the percentage is even higher,' he said.

In all there were 268 athletes sponsored by ADO in the Games - 800 began the programme. And results like the men's archery team gold after coming 17th in Seoul, show the improvement they made. As did the women's hockey team, who won the gold in their first Olympics.

Not surprisingly in the golden afterglow of Barcelona, the mood is for the scheme to continue towards Atlanta. 'We've had a good response so far. The excellent results here have acted as encouragement,' Carlos Ferre Salat, the president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, said.

Spain's sucess proved good news for a leading electrical goods retail chain in Barcelona, which promised customers their money back if Spain won more than 10 gold medals. They remembered to take out insurance against the (at one time) unlikely event.