Ernesto García: “Madrid 2022 is going to be a unique tournament”
Ernesto García has been linked to the badminton world all his life. He has been part of Carolina Marín’s success and is currently head of the Spanish national teams. Now he is aiming with ambition at a tournament that will leave its mark both in Madrid and in Spain and that will provide results for Spanish badminton in the short, medium and long term.
On a personal level, what does it feel like to lead the Spanish team in the biggest badminton tournament that exists on a continental level and that is being played ‘at home’?
It is always a satisfaction and a pride to lead the national team in a European Championship, but it is even more satisfying if it’s played at home. And in this case, it’s even more special because of the city: Madrid, World Capital of Sport 2022. As an athlete I have defended Spain’s colors on several occasions and in big events too, but as a coach the gratification is even superior because it’s an experience that you can rarely live at home. That is a memory both for athletes and for anyone, and it’s very wonderful. We trust that the public will answer the call, which will be a great support for the athletes on our team to help them achieve good results.
I’m sure it’s also special for the players to be able to compete with the best badminton players in the continent
For the athletes in the Spanish national team it’s going to be a very special emotion, they are players who mostly train at the National Center and will play very close to where they usually train and in the city where they live. In addition, it will be a unique tournament because they will feel the support of family and friends who in other occasions cannot travel. In addition, our players are beginning to being used to compete with the big stars: having figures like Axelsen, Antonsen, Blichfeldt, the Stoeva sisters, for example, at home is very important for all of them. We can’t forget that the players of the Spanish team are used to train with Carolina Marín and they know what a high-level athlete requires, but it is still a tournament with more expectations and in which they will have to manage the pressure of playing at home This is something you have to get used to.
Which goals do you set for this European Championships and for the immediate future?
The objectives are distinguished. For Carolina Marín, although it is her first competition after her knee injury, the goal cannot be other than to fight for her sixth gold medal and make things very difficult for whoever wants to beat her in the future. Clara Azurmendi and Bea Corrales, who compete in singles and doubles, will start with the goal of reaching the quarterfinals, although in the case of doubles the challenge is enormous because if they progress to the second round they will face the Stoeva sisters, European champions in 2018 and 2021 and great favorites for the title. In the mens section, Pablo Abián and Kike Peñalver have it complicated due to the high level of the players competing in Madrid: there are Danish players who are top-10 in the world and the French have also improved in recent years. They could fight to be in the round of 16 and, why not, in the quarterfinals. The rest of the doubles will have it even more complex since we are at the beginning of the new project.
How do you see Spanish badminton’s health in a medium and long term period?
Spanish badminton’s health remains good, with Carolina going to prove her recovery continuing to win and be a star on the covers, which is very good for our sport.
Apart from this, we have starded a project to strengthen the doubles events that should allow us to opt for better results and medals in the medium and long term in team and individual competitions. In addition, a great job is being done modernizing and adapting programs, which are being taken care of with more resources, and in the talent recruitment program ‘Champion Wanted’ should allow us to rise in quality.
In the recent years Spain has been improving its capability, and the results and positions in the world and European’s rankings indicate this. But even so, to reach the great European authorities that are Denmark, France, Germany and England, we still have to make an effort. Our players have been doing it, as it’s being seen in international competitions. In the medium-long term there will be players who will give a lot to talk about: Ania Setién, Lucía Rodríguez, Rubén García or Jacobo Fernández are names that already have begun to be heard outside of Spain. In lower categories there is a wide range, it’s been proven that there is a high level and, although everything can change because they are very young, we are optimistic for the future.
On a sporting level, what does it mean to organize the European Championships in Spain two years after Huelva and just after the Worlds?
At an organizational level, it is an important challenge, as it is a European Championship. Not because we have to organize the championship itself, since Spain has just organized the World Championships in Huelva, but because of the very short period of time in which the Spanish Federation has had to organize it. The confidence of international institutions in Spain is magnificent, they have trusted Spain to carry out this championship in a record time. It may not be the same as if it had been organized with greater planning, but it will surely be splendid. In any case, organizing this tournament is wonderful, because it’s going to leave an important mark in Spain: badminton is going to be very popular in Madrid and we will acquire the fruits later.
El Campeonato de Europa de Bádminton Madrid 2022 ha causado furor en la capital de España, que también es la Capital Mundial del Deporte 2022. Además, cabe destacar que el mayor evento continental de este deporte cuenta con el respaldo de Iberdrola como patrocinador principal, así como con el de patrocinadores de la talla de Banco Santander y ElPozo.