Sprint canoeist David Cal paddled his way into history on Wednesday morning when he claimed silver in the C-1 1,000m category, becoming the most decorated Spanish Olympian of all time.
Cal also holds more Olympic medals in the sport than any other competitor in the history of the Games. However, until the final 250 meters of the race at Eton it appeared that he would have to settle merely for an Olympic Diploma. At the outset of the race Cal was bringing up the rear and was in sixth place at the halfway stage, a position he maintained at the 750m mark. Then, displaying extraordinary power, Cal shot through the field and overtook Canada’s Mark Oldershaw on the line to take second place behind Germany’s Sebastian Brendel.
“I don’t feel like I’ve made history, to be honest. I just want to enjoy the medal,” said the Spaniard after the race. “I hoped to be further ahead at the start but I saved energy for the final stretch and it served me well in the last few meters.”
Cal’s silver in London is his fifth Olympic medal after he won gold in Athens in the same event and silver in the C-1 500m. In Beijing, he took silver in the two disciplines. The Galician thus stands alone as the country’s most garlanded Olympian, ahead of sailor Joan Llaneras and tennis player Arantxa Sánchez Vicario.
Spain now has seven medals from these games; one gold, five silver and one bronze, the latter also won by a canoeist, Maialen Chourraut.