CRIME

Students, friends, staff and teammates pay tribute to murdered golfer Celia Barquín

Hundreds turned out at Iowa State University on Wednesday night to honor the Spaniard, with boyfriend Carlos Negrín leading the emotional tribute

A vigil at Iowa State university for Celia Barquín.
A vigil at Iowa State university for Celia Barquín.Charlie Neibergall / AP

The depth of the mark that Spanish golf player Celia Barquín left at Iowa State University became evident when her friends and colleagues came together on Wednesday night to mourn her loss, two days after she was found dead on a golf course at Ames. Police have charged a suspect with first-degree murder.

With tears in their eyes, many of those who were closest to Celia explained how the 22-year-old from Cantabria, in northern Spain, had changed their lives forever, and for the better.

Carlos and Celia had been dreaming of a life together, until hers ended tragically on the ninth hole at the Coldwater Golf Links course

Hundreds of young people turned out at the Wednesday-night vigil in front of the campanile, which is a symbol of the university, and where a table had been adorned with a photo of the champion playing her beloved game. There was also a screen showing more photos of her on a loop, and piles of postcards so that her friends could write messages to send to her family in Spain.

But the most touching testimony came from the person who had been closest to her in recent months, her boyfriend Carlos Negrín. A native of the Canary Islands with a degree in aeronautical engineering, Carlos had enjoyed a wonderful love story with Celia, one that he described to the crowd, revealing more sides to the captivating personality that had already been described by her friends, roommates, a teacher and her coach.

Carlos and Celia had been dreaming of a life together, until hers ended so tragically on the ninth hole on the Coldwater Golf Links course. But nobody on Wednesday night wanted to talk about what has been described as a “random act of violence,” because, as Carlos said, “there are people in this world who shine so bright that they eclipse any evil act.”

“She was a truly beautiful soul,” said Denzel, a golf teammate.

“She always had a good word and a bubbly personality. She was the epitome of an athlete student, she had goals and dreams and the ability to make them happen,” added another teammate and one-time roommate.

She spent two Thanksgivings with my family in Cedar Rapids. My parents called her ‘our European daughter’

Former roommate

“She spent two Thanksgivings with my family in Cedar Rapids,” she continued. “My parents called her ‘our European daughter,’ so I was like her sister. In our room, we had a flag that was half Spanish and half American, which a relative of hers had sewed together. When I graduated in May, she gave me a flag made out of the other two halves as a gift. Wherever life takes us, she said, each one of us will have our halves. We said goodbye without knowing when we would see each other again. We could never have guessed that this was going to be the last time.”

Carlos, wearing a yellow flower in his lapel – that was Celia’s favorite color – explained how they had first been in touch: at 3am one night, he got a phone call from a girl who shouted down the phone at him: “You’re Spanish!” A friend had given her his number in the middle of a party, and Celia, always impulsive, had called him straight away. “There was a spark from that moment on,” Carlos explained.

“The love that she gave off made Celia an open, warm and trusting person,” explained her coach, Christie Martens, someone who Celia would occasionally refer to as a second mother. “She became everything that she was thanks to the love of her family and of all of us. I like to think that we have all become a little bit like her, thanks to having had her in our lives.”

English version by Simon Hunter.

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