Spyros Capralos, president of the European Olympic Committees (EOC), picks up his racket and hits a few shots in the ‘Padel Stadium’ built in Krakow’s iconic Market Square. And he has a lot of fun. Because that’s what padel is all about, just picking up the racket is enough to make the magic happen. The number one of European sport on the court is the symbolic image of an unforgettable day for sport and padel in particular: the EG2023 finals in Krakow’s main square, with a full house of enthusiastic spectators, music and great matches. And of course the first medals.
The EOC President does not hide his satisfaction: ‘We always want to see something new, so we give new sports that are less well known than the traditional ones the chance to be appreciated, to enter the programme. Then we will see the results. In the first edition of the European Games we included 3 vs 3 basketball and karate, which then became Olympic sports’. As if to say: if good mornings are any indication. Padel is chasing the five-circle goal, the Olympics, and Capralos traces the way forward for sports that have this ambition: ‘The EG2023 represents a great step forward for a discipline, but there is great competition, as is only logical. The best thing is to look to the future, to the young people, attracting a large audience and then we will see”.
And it is precisely with the future in mind that there are those who are already wondering which sports will be introduced at the European Games in the future: “It will definitely happen. In the next edition,’ reveals Capralos, ‘we will see with the organisers what novelties they want to propose to us. The European Olympic Committee, first of all, does not want money to be spent on facilities that will not be used after the event. We want to understand well which disciplines are of real interest”. The success of the public these days, as in the case of padel, according to Capralos, depends on the quality of the athletes in the field: “The level has improved because three conditions must be met for each sport: to be valid as a qualification for the Olympic Games, or as a European championship. Alternatively, to have the best European athletes. And the best are here”.
Italy and Spain fight for first place in the medal table and on the padel courts, according to a great tradition in several sports: ‘I think padel is confirming the rivalry in the medal table between Spain and Italy. The first medals in the history of padel, in such a special location, amidst art, history and architecture, Capralos retraces the decisive steps of this ‘conquest’: “There has been a great effort by the International Federation and president Luigi Carraro. He had many meetings and talks with the mayor of Krakow and with us, in order to have padel at the Games in the best location in the city. I think it was a great success”.
Exam passed, then? “Not only passed, but was top of the class!” is the line with which Spyros Capralos takes his leave from the press meeting, before plunging back into the thousand commitments of these days of great sport, here in Krakow.
On Sunday, athletes play for medals:
Mixed Doubles Bronze Medal Match:
David Gala/Maria Araceli Martinez (ESP) – Thomas Leygue/Lucile Pothier (FRA) 2-0
Women’s Doubles Bronze Medal Match:
Chiara Pappacena/Giulia Sussarello (ITA) – Maria Araceli Martinez/Noa Canovas (ESP) 2-1
Men’s Doubles Bronze Medal Match:
Afonso Fazendeiro/Miguel Oliveira (POR) – Marco Cassetta/Simone Cremona (ITA) 2-1