On Thursday, 2016 Olympic gold medalist and World Record holder Mireia Belmonte spoke to the media at the launch of her new project titled “Open Promises Mireia Belmonte“, which is sponsored by car company Hyundai. She discussed topics such as her preparations for the Paris 2024 Olympic games, what “Open Promises” entails, as well as the controversy surrounding Spanish soccer president Luis Rubiales and the Spanish women’s soccer team.
Future In Swimming
According to Diario ABC, Belmonte has been recovering from chronic shoulder problems that have kept her out of major competitions such as the 2022 and 2023 World Championships. However, she says that her shoulder problems have gotten better and that her eyes are set on competing at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games next summer.
“I am seeing that I am recovering, that I can swim a little more, and I also really want to compete,” Belmonte told ABC in Spanish. “I had had injuries, but never such a long recovery…I am lucky that years ago I prepared myself mentally for those moments in which there are days when you go fast, others slow, and others where you have to slow down.”
Per Relevo, Belmonte will start altitude training in November at Fort Romeu in France. This training will be a “test” for her, and she hopes that she will be able to compete again following it. In the next coming year, she wants to drop the 800 and 1500 free events and focus on the 200 and 400 free events. She also looks to prioritize her legs more than her arms in training.
Belmonte acknowledged the potential struggles of getting through the 2024 swimming schedule, with the 2024 World Championships happening in February, the European Championships happening in May, and the Olympics happening in May. She says that it will be difficult to hit qualifying standards for these meets, but she is willing to “trust the process”.
“Throughout this time I have not lost the desire to train and compete and I have continued fighting day by day, even though at some point I have had to stop before moving forward,” Belmonte told Relevo.
Belmonte, who is 32 years old, last competed in October 2022 at the Berlin stop of the World Aquatics Cup. Her last long course competition was the 2022 European Championships, where she was 17th in the 400 free (4:18.33), 32nd in the 100 fly (1:02.73), 11th in the 200 fly (2:14.01), 14th in the 200 IM (2:15.47), and 10th in the 400 IM (4:48.18). If she manages to qualify for Paris 2024, she will have competed at four different Olympic games.
Open Promises Maria Belmonte
At Thursday’s Hyundai event, Belmonte introduced “Open Promises Maria Belmonte”, which is a swimming competition circuit intended for children aged 11 to 16. The circuit’s first competition will take place in Barcelona on September 30, but there will be other stops in Madrid, Sevilla, Castellon, Bilbao, and Santiago. All competitions will be swimming in one event: the 200 IM.
“We want to promote swimming among young people and the 200 medley is the best test to do so as it is the most complete,” Belmonte said.
“Open Promises” includes two categories for both males and females: the juvenile category (13-14 year old males, 11-12 year old females) and an older, teen category (15-16 year old males, 13-14 year old females). Winners in each of the four competition categories will be able to spend a day with Belmonte at the Spanish High-Performance Training Center for swimming.
“Beyond the medals and rankings, I hope that the participants find in this competition an enriching experience, where friendships are formed and a spirit of camaraderie is forged. I want them to enjoy every moment in the water, and to know that the sport is much more than victory,” Belmonte said of her goals for “Open Promises.”
Belmonte addressed the actions of Spanish soccer president Luis Rubiales, saying that they “cannot be justified.”
“I am very sad that a controversy like the Rubiales issue has tarnished the achievements of the Spanish women’s soccer team,” Belmonte said. “What happened cannot be justified, but I think we also must give prominence and value to what they have achieved. It is not easy to win a World Cup, and more so in football, where men have more prominence and we should give more to women.”
Mireia Belmonte y el apoyo a Jenni y a las ganadoras del Mundial:
💬 “Es una pena que una polémica ensombrezca todo lo que han conseguido las chicas".
💬 “Lo que pasó no se puede justificar pero creo que también hay que darle protagonismo y el valor de lo que han logrado". pic.twitter.com/hJzZgRA4hH
— Relevo (@relevo) September 7, 2023
The “Rubiales issue” that Belmonte mentioned was referring to when Rubiales kissed Spanish soccer player Jenni Hermoso during the victory ceremony following the 2023 Women’s World Cup final, which Spain won. Hermoso later said that the kiss was not consensual, and that she felt “vulnerable” and was “the victim of aggression, an impulsive, sexist act.” She has also pressed charges on Rubiales and accused him of sexual assault. Rubiales, meanwhile, has retaliated against Hermoso—refusing to resign and saying that the kiss was consensual.
Rubiales received a 90-day suspension from FIFA on August 27. The entire Spanish women’s soccer team has made a statement saying that they will refuse to play in future matches until he is removed from his position completely.
Belmonte, who is the most decorated Spanish Olympic swimmer of all time and the first Spanish woman to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming, is one of several high-profile individuals in Spain to condemn Rubiales’ actions. Others include acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, as well as a myriad of Spanish athletes such as Andres Iniesta, Iker Casillas, Xavi Hernandez, David de Gea, Sergio Ramos, Pau Gasol, and Alexia Putellas. In addition, women’s soccer players from across the world have shown their support for Hermoso.