50th birthday celebrations for AS: The King and Queen hand out awards to Nadal, Coe and Mireia


Sports newspaper AS has celebrated 50 years of sports and journalism, a half century of sporting triumphs as seen in 17,013 issues read by millions of readers and, now, internet users worldwide. Half a century at the service of readers. King Felipe and Queen Letizia presided over the birthday gala and gave out the AS Sports Awards for the best Spanish athletes of the past five decades, and to Rafa Nadal and Mireia Belmonte, while also paying tribute to the inspirational sporting career of Sebastian Coe. If we are made of the stuff of our dreams, athletes are the clearest example of the passion and strength needed to achieve them.

The gala was held at the townhall of Madrid, the city where AS was born on December 6, 1967. Those early years were in black and white, but the paper gradually adopted color as the paper grew in tandem with the successes of Spanish sport. Now, thanks to digital transformation, AS has become a vehicle for global communication, with 25 million unique users worldwide (according to internal estimates based on data from Comscore). AS boasts digital editions in Latin America (world leader for Spanish-language sports content), USA,  in English with the main focus on Asia and soon in the Arab world through AS Arabia, which will reach 25 countries in Middle East and North Africa.

Alfredo Relaño , editor-in-chief of AS, acted as host. He was joined at the gala event by Juan Luis Cebrián, Executive Chair of PRISA, publisher of AS; Manuel Polanco, deputy Executive Chair of PRISA and Manuel Mirat, CEO of  Prisa and president of AS. Also attending were Iñigo Mendez de Vigo, Minister of Education, Culture and Sport, Ana Pastor, president of Congress, Manuela Carmena, mayor of Madrid, and José Ramón Lete, Secretary of State for Sport. Ambassadors of countries where AS is present also joined in the celebrations: Mohammed Jaham Al Kuwari (Qatar), Alberto Furmanski (Colombia), José Antonio García Belaunde (Peru), Roberta Lajous (Mexico), Federico Ramón Puerta (Argentina) and Gabriela Dancau (Romania).

King Felipe, who took part in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, said that "AS, as a brand, is key to understanding Spanish sport and is a social touchstone that reflects the history of world sport." The King said that from the outset "what set AS apart was the innovative nature and quality of its reports" and he praised sport "for flying the flag for Spain, representing our culture and our values around the world". The King remarked that it was a "happy coincidence" that the newspaper shares with its birthday the Spanish Constitution.

Juan Luis Cebrián praised "the symbolic value of sport for free and peaceful coexistence." The Executive Chair recalled the so-called “ping-pong diplomacy” between the US and China in the 1970s, saying “a match can do more for world peace and international order than hours of talks falling on deaf ears between politicians and representatives of the world’s nations. "

Of course, many of those being honored for their contributions to Spanish sport over the past five decades are no longer with us.  "Those honored here today are just the tip of the iceberg, because this is a tribute to everyone," said Relaño, noting that "in recent years Spain has truly embraced sport and has triumphed in ways that were unimaginable fifty years ago." Many of theses achievements have been made possible thanks to the efforts of companies such as Danone, El Corte Ingles, Ford, State Lotteries, Tag Heuer, Repsol, Iberdrola, Telefonica and Banco Santander, who have collaborated with AS in the Awards.

There was a poignant moment as a video recalled the lives and deeds of Angel Nieto and his 13 world championships, Seve Ballesteros and Paquito Fernández Ochoa. People of sterner stuff who are no longer with us. "Pioneers like Federico Bahamontes, Manolo Santana, Mariano Haro, Julio Jimenez and Pedro Ferrandiz," said the presenters, Laura Martinez (head of sports at Cadena SER) and Dani Garrido (anchor of Carrusel).

Among those coming on stage to accept their awards, designed by Javier Mariscal, the father of OLympic mascot Cobi,  were some of the greats of Spanish sport.  And the audience were reminded of unforgettable moments and sporting stars such as Iribar, Orantes, the 12-1 victory over Malta, the silver medal for basketball in Los Angeles, Indurain, Cacho, Olympic soccer gold, Real Madrid’s lucky streak of seven, Saitama’s gold, Ruth, and the South African World Cup. Pure happiness. The stuff of dreams.

Source: Diario AS


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