SportsAntonio García: “I am critical of the education of children; in...

Antonio García: “I am critical of the education of children; in sports not everything is flowers”

Antonio García, in a Granollers-Cangas this season.Xavier Solana

World champion in 2013 and winner of four other medals with Spain, Antonio García (La Llagosta, Barcelona) is enjoying a golden age at the age of 38 that he never imagined. Returning definitively to its origins, Granollers, after touring all of Europe, was called by Jordi Ribera five years later, played its first Games in Tokyo and was capital in the Olympic bronze. At least he would like to reach 40 on the slopes. This weekend, he plays the Copa del Rey de Antequera. Thinking about defeating Barça, he assures him, is no longer a utopia.

Ask. Has this personal moment caught you by surprise?

Answer. I didn’t expect the call from the national team, that’s for sure. Until the moment in which Jordi [Ribera] summon me again [justo antes de los Juegos de Tokio]I hadn’t considered going back. And, sportingly speaking, it is difficult to speak of an explosion at 36 or 37 years of age, but that is how it has been. I don’t know if that’s when I’m at my best, but it’s when I play with the most confidence. Granollers is my home and they support me a lot.

P. France, Hungary, Denmark, Romania and Spain. She spent a decade abroad. What residue did that experience leave you?

R. Everything I am is thanks to those 10 years. I learned that the people you love are always there. And then that handball in Spain is light years away from handball abroad in the non-sports field and that, within 40×20, Spain is light years away from the rest. It’s funny that with less means we achieve much more. We are one step ahead in coaches and style of play. Countries try to copy things from us and I ask that we do the same outside of sports. Since I left now, for the players everything is the same or worse. I read sometimes that we are sticking our heads out, and no. Conditions are getting worse. And they leave, of course. If I could have, I would have left sooner. And, probably, if I only looked at professional conditions, I would still be abroad. But hey, my personal situation has made me come back and I’m not complaining.

It’s difficult to talk about an explosion at 36 or 37 years old, but that’s how it has been. I did not expect to return to Spain after five years

P. Veterans like you, what capacity do you have to change things together with the leaders?

R. Some want to take advantage of our experience and others do not, for convenience, lack of intention or because they do not see possibilities. Changes always cost. People have entered Granollers with desire and they have asked me many things. The French League 10 years ago was the same or worse than ours in terms of promotion. The clubs must take that step. And players and coaches sometimes have to go a little further. We are no longer only asked to play, but to spread the word. If Granollers has Chema Márquez and Antonio García who are runners-up in Europe, this has to come out every two for three. Go to companies and bring people from schools.

P. Are you optimistic?

R. Every year I think: let’s see if in two or three there will be a turning point. But that change is not going to come looking for you. I have been optimistic for a long time and reality has led me to not be. Now there are no defaults, but you see the conditions… This year some have not been able to play away from home during the week because they have to work. Everything depends on the money and years ago it was.

P. Three weeks ago, Granollers scared Barcelona at home. They were up five in the first half, although they came back later. How do you see the distance with them, can someone give the claw?

R. I want to think so. Both Bidasoa and we have raised the level. The other day, we ended up very angry because we saw ourselves with possibilities. It wasn’t like before, that they beat you by four, five or seven and that was fine because normally they did it by 15. I’m optimistic about that, because otherwise I wouldn’t play. I would like Barça to lose soon. I hope it’s us. I feel bad because I have friends there. And I hope that when that day comes, we will use it to grow.

P. You are world champion. How do you chew that being second is a success?

R. It’s a reality bath. We’re having a great season, but some players won’t be here next season. And rowing again, a little step back and see if we can take two steps forward. And so many years. That’s why I said that everything is the same.

“I read that we are sticking our heads out, but the conditions of the players are getting worse and worse”

P. His first experience abroad was at PSG when Qatar bought the club. How do you remember?

R. I had a futures deal with PSG when it was still Paris Handball. They were about to go down and they were saved in the last game. I was listening to it on the radio and thought that if they went down, I would have to find a team. But it went well and we closed the contract with PSG. Mikkel Hansen, Marko Kopljar, Gunnarsson also came… A great investment was made, but it was not the only one in Europe. Now it’s like in football. If they don’t win the Champions League, the season is useless. They have brought together Karabatic, Hansen, Sagosen… A lot and they haven’t won it yet. That pressure from Qatar and from outside the locker room is very great.

P. Did you also experience that pressure from Qatar on the players?

R. It was, but not directly from them. The second year we played the League against Dunkirk at home, we lost and Bruno Martini (sports director) came down to ask us for an explanation. He told us that they were giving us everything and why didn’t we win? Al-Khelaïfi came for a few games, but he was always very good. At least when I was. It was just to greet or congratulate us.

“Someone can give Barça a blow. I would like him to lose soon in Spain”

P. After Rafa Nadal’s triumph at the Australian Open, he shared on networks an article by his uncle Toni in which he spoke of the value of the demand, of how Rafa had accepted it without the guarantee of success. Was it reflected?

R. Yes, I have lived both parts. If I hadn’t returned to the national team, they probably wouldn’t have called me for this interview. But the work I’ve done is the same. The sacrifice is day by day without knowing if you are going to get a reward. And it is normal not to have it. How many players make the same effort as me and don’t go to the Games? That requirement is given by how you live the sport to do everything on your part, and you have to train from a young age. Now you read that children shouldn’t compete because everyone tries hard. But the reality is that one wins and the other loses. And the one who falls must overcome a frustration. I agree with Toni Nadal because, indirectly, he is a bit critical of the training. They are not all flowers. Sometimes you suffer and nothing happens. You do, you do, you do, you get injured and you start from scratch. That hardens people. Unfortunately, today fewer and fewer young people see themselves reflected in this way. They have not been taught the sport of a lifetime. And in this I agree with many people, also from abroad. They tell you they are very different. They will also have other things that I have not had.

Copa del Rey Calendar

Quarter finals. Friday

Bidasoa-Granollers (12.30)

Cangas-Ademar (15.00)

Antequera-Puente Genil (17.15)

Barcelona-Anaitasuna (19.45)

All by RTVE Play

semifinals. Saturday (7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.).

Winner of Barça-Anaitasuna against the winner of Cangas-Ademar.

Winner of Bidasoa-Granollers against the winner of Antequera-Puente Genil.

By Tdp

Final. Sunday. 19.00. Tdp.

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