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12 October 1910: Birth of pioneering Spanish athlete Margot Moles

World record Spanish discus thrower, Margot Moles Piña.
World record Spanish discus thrower, Margot Moles Piña. / SUR
  • Margot was among the first Spanish female athletes to participate in the 1936 Winter Olympics

Born in Terrasa, Catalonia, in 1910, Margot Moles Piña was a pioneer in women's athletics in Spain. Specialising in hammer throw, discus, hockey, swimming and skiing, in 1936, she became the first Spanish women's skiing champion in an official competition. Margot and her sister, Lucinda, were among the first Spanish women to practise professional athletics, and along with alpine skier, Ernestina Maenza, were the first Spanish women athletes to participate in the Garmisch-Partenkirche Winter Olympics in 1936.

At the age of 18, Margot joined the Peñalara Spanish alpine sports society and began training with some of Spain's most experienced male skiers. She began to practise athletics, tennis, basketball and horse riding, but she excelled in the track and field events, for which she went on to win numerous medals.

During the first Spanish Athletics Championship, held in Madrid in 1931, Margot represented Castile (her family had moved to Madrid when she was seven) and won a gold medal in discus, and a silver in javelin.

The following year, she achieved the world record with a hammer throw of 22.85 metres, a record that remained unbeaten for 43 years. Later that year, she participated in the second championship in Barcelona, were she again secured gold in the discus.

Between 1929 and 1934, Margot achieved five world record discus throws: the last, in 1934, was maintained until 1964.

Margot Moles was a staunch republican and campaigned for women's rights and equality, and defended divorce. During an interview with the journalist Luis Meléndez in 1932, she said, "We do not believe in the superiority of the male sex. I think that there is a formidable backlog of many centuries that has stifled and undermined our spirit, but history is full of examples that support the theory that the woman is endowed with sufficient racial elements to occupy a role equal to that of the man in life."

She worked as a teacher during the Second Spanish Republic, until the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, when, because she was a republican, she was forced to quit her job. Both her parents were teachers and one of her uncles, Juan Moles, was the interior minister during the Second Republic. The family, which remained committed to the established government, was forced into exile at the end of the war. Her sister went to the USA, while her brother and parents moved to Mexico.

Both the life and the career of Margot Moles suffered the consequences of her support of the Republic. The Franco regime socially ostracised the athlete and refused to recognise her contribution to Spanish athletics. Accused of collaborating with the republicans, her husband, Manuel Piña, was executed in Madrid in 1942.

Margot led a discreet life during the Franco regime, virtually retiring from sport. She died in 1987 without ever having received a tribute for her career.

Her life was recorded in The Great Republican Athlete, a biography that recounts the life of one of the great pioneers of Spanish sport.