"This is a dream come true; I'm going to enjoy the whole experience"
The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro officially get under way tonight with the opening ceremony being broadcast to a global audience. The football events for both the women and the men began on Wednesday and Thursday but the ceremony will be the official opening of the Games.
These are the first Olympics to be held not only in Brazil, but also in South America and will last for just over a fortnight until the closing ceremony on Monday 22 August, with athletes competing across 28 Olympic sports and 306 sets of medals are up for grabs. From this, it is noteworthy that rugby sevens and golf are both included at Rio for the very first time in Olympic history. In addition, five new disciplines were added to the schedule for the 2020 Games in Tokyo on Thursday by the International Olympic Commitee: skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing, karate and basketball / softball.
In total, there will be six athletes from Malaga province competing in their respective sports in Rio: Marta López (handball), Carlos Peralta (swimming), José Daniel Martín Dockx (horse riding), Borja Vivas (shot put), Duane Rocha (swimming) and Azahara Muñoz (golf).
Muñoz will be the last Olympic competitor from Malaga to leave for Brazil. Azahara, who comes from San Pedro Alcántara and is Spain’s second best golfer (she is 45th on the LPGA Tour’s Rolex Ranking) has been playing extremely well so far this year, so she is optimistic about the Olympics although she is well aware that the results in her sport are rarely predictable. She and Carlota Ciganda will be representing Spain, in the year in which golf is included as an Olympic sport for the first time after a gap of 112 years and several male players have turned down the chance to compete.
–You had a quiet start to this season, but you have just made the top ten in an LPGA tournament and also did well in the British Open. How do you feel about going to the Olympics, are you confident?
–I have had very good results in the past two months. I’m hitting the ball much better and that gives me a lot of confidence.
–What objectives are you setting yourself? Or, to put it another way, what result would you be happy with, or not happy with?
–I don’t look at it like that. Obviously, I’m going to do everything I can to win a medal but I don’t want to go there thinking that I’ll be upset if things don’t go my way. I can only do my best, I work hard every day, that’s all I can do.
–Do you think there is a favourite, or is it completely open?
–Golf isn’t like other sports. Someone different wins every week. But the favourite today has to be Lydia Ko, the 19 year old from South Korea. She is a worldwide phenomenon.
–Do you know anything about the course at Reserva de Marapendi in Rio de Janeiro? Do you think the way it has been designed could be beneficial or negative for you?
–I don’t know the course. I’m going a couple of days beforehand (the competition will be from Wednesday 17th to Saturday 20th) to study it. I can’t get there any earlier.
–What does it mean to you, going to the Games for the first time?
–It’s a dream come true. Ever since I was little I have watched the Olympics and imagined competing in them and now I’m going to do it. I’m going to really enjoy the whole experience.
– Are you angry that golf was not included in the Olympics for so many years?
–Well, I’m pleased it is included now and I hope it will be, for many years. I think it will make golf more popular and there will be more tournaments as a result.
–Why do you think so many golfers have opted not to go to the Olympics? And is it mainly the men?
–It seems to be only the men. I think there’s only one girl who isn’t going, all the rest of us are. I sincerely believe it’s because they are doing something else. They have a number of tournaments close together and for them some of those are more important, although that’s something I personally don’t understand.
–Are you worried about Zika? Are you happy with the information you have been given by the Spanish federation and the authorities?
–The information from the federations has reassured us. Everywhere has been fumigated and I’m not worried. I was a bit concerned at first, but not now.source surinenglish