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A historic bronze for Mijas snowboarder Regino Hernández at the Olympic Winter Games

Regino Hernández celebrates his podium finish in Pyeongchang. :: AFP
Regino Hernández celebrates his podium finish in Pyeongchang. :: AFP
  • Hernández's medal in the snowboard cross event in Pyeongchang is only the third in Spain's Winter Games history

After more than four hours of competition and three qualification rounds to reach the final, Mijas rider Regino Hernández has finally claimed the medal he's been craving.

Hernández became only the third Spaniard to win a medal at an Olympic Winter Games, picking up bronze in the snowboard cross event in Pyeongchang in the early hours of Thursday morning (Spanish time).

It has been 26 years since Spain last picked up a medal; Hernández follows in the footsteps of Francisco 'Paquito' Fernández Ochoa (gold in 1972) and Blanca Fernández Ochoa (bronze in 1992).

“It's a huge win for Spain and especially for snowboarding,” he said. “It'll be a huge impetus for this sport in our country.''

This was Hernández's best showing in a winter games by far: he achieved 31st and 21st in Vancouver 2012 and Sochi 2014, respectively.

His road to the final was not an easy one with the entire competition blighted by a number of falls, some serious, across every phase.

However, the rider from Mijas progressed and was the only Spaniard to do so.

The favourite was Pierre Vaultier and it so proved; the Frenchman claimed gold, ahead of Australian Jarryd Hughes, one of the surprise packages in the competition. Hughes pipped Hernández to third, both finishing ahead of Alex Pullin, who was also tipped for success but crashed midway through the race and did not finish.

Pullin's crash, followed by American pair Nick Baumgartner and Mick Dierdorff sustaining falls, left Vaultier, Hughes and Hernández in the medal positions.

Vaultier could not be caught, finishing 0.27 of a second in front of Hughes, who pipped Hernández by 0.11.

“It has been an incredible day. I couldn't be happier. I don't care if it's bronze, silver or gold. It's an Olympic medal,” he said.