Most popular sports in Spain
Spain can be considered as one of the best Tennis playing nations in the World, and a formidable force when it comes to clay courts. Spain has won numerous national accolades alongside, yielding some of the finest tennis players. Winner of Davis Cup 5 times and lifting the Fed Cup another 4 times, Spain has enjoyed equal success in the men's and women's format. However, much credit goes to Rafael Nadal, arguably the greatest Spanish Tennis player and one of the greatest of all times in the World. With 14 Grand Slam titles under his name, Nadal also holds a few unassailable records to his name. He is the only tennis player ever to win Grand slam titles on hardcourt, grass, and clay courts in 2009. He has formed a tenacious rivalry with talismanic Swiss Roger Federer. Veteran Spanish players like Carlos Moya and David Ferrer were forces to reckon with in the early 2000s while the women tennis section yielding the likes of Carla Suarez Navarro and Garbine Muguruza. However, Conchita Martinez remains to be the best among the female tennis players with an insurmountable 33 titles to her name. The Spanish women national team has somehow failed to conjure up anything significant as far as Tennis is concerned. Tennis is certainly among the list of top sports in Spain, and its meteoric rise in popularity has enlisted itself in the famous sports in Spain.
Spanish basketball sides like the Real Madrid Baloncesto and FC Barcelona Basquet have catapulted the Spanish ACB league into limelight. Considered as one of the few premier basketball leagues in Europe, ACB league is gifted with talented Spaniards and other foreign talents making it one of Spain's most popular sports. Spanish players have started to get a stranglehold on NBA as well. Spanish men and women national team have enjoyed decent spells at the international level where the former won gold at the 2006 FIBA men Championship, and the latter managed silver at the 2014 FIBA women championship. In men's basketball, players like Ricky Rubio, Wally Szczerbiak, and Marc Gasol went on to attain legendary status in the most coveted NBA Championships. The opposite gender has also tasted some success through the likes of Alba Torrens and Anna Cruz. Much like the El Clasico in football; the match between Real Madrid Baloncesto and FC Barcelona Basquet also known as the basketball's El Clasico remains to be one of the most hyped games in the Spanish ACB league. Basketball is one of the top 3 sports in Spain, and the community seems to be growing in stature day by day.
Roller Hockey (Quad)
Quad is Europe's one of the most rough and enthralling sports. Spain seems to have mastered the art of Quad as well by winning the World Championship 16 times. The Spanish national team has done extremely well in the European Championship as well, winning it 14 times. Spain's FC Barcelona is the most decorated European club with 21 European Cups to its name. Liceo La Coruna and Igualada HC have had their fair share of success too as far as European club trophies are concerned.
One of World's most laid back sports, Golf has gained tremendous popularity in Spain over the past decade. With 100+ golf courses set up all over Spain, it is safe to say that Spain has turned into a Golfing powerhouse. Prodigal players have turned up from few of the elite golf training centers and at present Sergio Garcia seems to be the latest sensation. The Spaniard and his three-men team broke the record of 'Fastest hole in golf by a team of 4' and registered their names in the Guinness Book of World Records. However, it was Seve Ballesteros who got the ball rolling or in this case the put rolling as he had cemented his place as one of the finest players in the World and undoubtedly the best Spain has ever produced. With as many as 50 European titles under his belt, Seve played with an indomitable spirit, but had to retire due to a slump in form. In 2007 he bid adieu to the Golfing World, and then tragedy struck. He was diagnosed with brain tumor in 2008, and eventually succumbed to brain cancer in 2011. Seve Ballesteros is considered to have inspired many youngsters to take up Golf as a serious sport, rendering it as one of the most popular sports in Spain. However, it is not only the men's team that has won all the accolades, as the women's national team too went on to win the inaugural International crown in 2014, and has garnered plaudits from all over the World.
Motorsports has quickly risen through the ranks in terms of popularity in Spain. Fernando Alonso, the veteran Spanish is to be credited for promoting motorsports in Spain when he won back to back World Championships in 2005 and 2006. Fernando Alonso then became a cult figure in Spanish motorsport world, and this led to Spain hosting 4 Grand Prix since then. The exposure to the global arena has resulted in Motorsports becoming a very famous sport in Spain. Motorsports have always been men oriented since its inception, but the last decade saw women sector emerging as strong contenders in this field. Laia Sanz is one of the most decorated motorcycle riders in the World, and perhaps the most successful in Spanish women motorsports. There have been many notable male players for Spain with Sito Pons and Jorge Martinez Aspar being the finest of the lot. Current players like Alvara Bautista and Dani Pedrosa have hogged the limelight on the international stage. Motorsport in Spain went through a dark phase way back in 1955 where a fatal crash cost the Pedrables circuit being dropped from the calendar. It was not until the early 60's that Spanish circuits stared to stage a comeback, and in 1968 the Spanish Grand Prix made it to the calendar.
Ranked among the top 5 sports in Spain, Handball has grown leaps and bounds in terms of popularity and competitiveness. The Liga ASOBOL of Spain is certainly one of the most thrilling handball club tournaments in the World. The Spanish men and women handball national team have had a decent run on the International stage with the latter securing plethora of individual awards alongside stellar performances in European Championship. Marta Mangue and Macarena Aguilar are two of the most prolific scorers in Women handball matches. A bronze in 2011 World Championship was succeeded by another one in the 2012 Olympic. The women handball national team has also performed admirably in the Mediterranean Games winning it once in 2005. The Spanish men handball team has tasted success in World Championships winning gold in 2005 and 2013. They have emulated their success in Olympics as well as European Championships. David Barrufet, Demetrio Lozanno, and Albert Rocas are few of the legendary handball players ever to don Spain's national jersey. Handball might not be one of the most talked about sports in the World, but it is considered as one of the major sports in Spain.
One of the top 10 sports in Spain, Cycling has been an integral part of Spain's sports history. Along with the Tour De France and Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a Espana also known as Tour of Spain forms the most important event in Cycling; the Grand Tours. Spain has dominated the cycling tournaments with immaculate insistence, and Miguel Indurain remains their most decorated athlete bagging five consecutive Tour De France titles alongside the 1995 Road World Championship time trial. He won gold in the 1996 Olympic time trial and is widely regarded as the best Spanish cycling athlete ever. Spanish athletes since then have failed to hit their strides while Alberto Contador had his Giro d'Italia title confiscated by the Court of Arbitration for Sport marking a dark day in Spain's cycling history. However, Contador has done well since serving his two-year ban. The legend of Oscar Freire is a glorious tale as the retired Spanish cycling athlete won World Road Racing Championship and one-day classic cycle races thrice. Spain's dominance in the World arena has taken everyone by surprise as the country is not known to be a cycling paradise due to its dense population and lack of convenient roads. Seville, on the other hand is quickly growing into a haven for cycling athletes. The streets of Madrid host the annual bicycle fiesta where enthused cyclists from all over Spain attain the tradition-cum-sport event.
Spaniards have made an impact on every sport they have ever tried their hands on, and they are no longer the 'jack of all trades master of none'. The Spanish men's water polo team is an invincible force on the International stage stamping their authority with ruthless precision. Water Polo has become an integral part of Spain's history making it to the list of Spain's famous sports. The golden period of 1990's brought in some of the finest Water Polo players. It was the 1996 Olympics where Spain had truly made its mark with an emphatic 7-5 victory over Croatia and winning the first and only gold medal till date. The Spanish men's team has tasted success in other competitions namely the 1994 World Aquatic Championships and 2009 FINA World Championships. The Spanish women's national team has found its feet on the International stage bagging silver in 2012 Olympics and winning the 2013 World Championship.
Spain has been a force to reckon with in rhythmic gymnastics since the emergence of Carolina Pascual, who is considered to be Spain's greatest gymnast ever. However, other gymnasts have also proved that Spain need not rely on Carolina always, as a collective effort during the 90s saw the Spanish gymnasts bag a plethora of titles.
Spanish Football has always attracted some of the finest players around the globe, and the popularity of Spanish la Liga has seen a meteoric rise in the last decade. Football has played a major role in reviving Spain's economy, and such has been its impact that by 2015, professional football had generated 0.75% of Spain's GDP. This answers the question that has surfaced for a long time now that what is the most important sport in Spain? Football is clearly a winner at present due to such high revenues. Spain has unearthed footballing legends since the dawn of time with players like Francesco Gento, Luis Suarez, Pep Guardiola, Fernando Hierro, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta donning the La Roja shirt. The national side has won 2 European Championships in addition to the 2010 World Cup within a span of 4 years. Real Madrid and Barcelona are two of World's premier clubs situated in Spain with clubs like Sevilla and Malaga emerging as strong European contenders. The Spain women's football national team is no slouch and is quickly growing into a European powerhouse. The El Clasico match between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona is perhaps the greatest rivalry in Footballing history racking up enormous viewership throughout the World. Football is certainly a cult in Spain, and could be labeled as the biggest Sport in Spain too.