Since snowboarder Regino Hernández became Spain's first medal winner in 26 years at the Winter Olympics two weeks ago, he has received one recognition after another. Earlier this week it was the turn of his neighbours and friends in Mijas to pay tribute to his achievement, at an event organised at the town hall.
Hernández was welcomed by the mayor, Juan Carlos Maldonado, and the rest of the council in an emotional gathering during which video images were shown of the race in which he won the medal and also included statements from his family.
The room was packed with well-wishers, including pupils from the San Sebastián school in Mijas Pueblo, as the mayor announced to great applause that Regino Hernández was to receive the title of Adoptive Son of Mijas and also that the Ciudad Deportiva sports centre in Las Lagunas - the biggest and most important in the municipality - is to be named after him.
“We want to thank you for putting the name of Mijas at the peak of international sport,” said the mayor. Visibly moved, the snowboarder said how delighted he was to receive this recognition. “I would not have been able to achieve this if it had not been for the support I have received over the years, especially from the town of Mijas,” he said.
He also addressed the young people in the room, advising them to work hard at doing what they loved. “I was born in Ceuta and live in Mijas, and even so I have been able to dedicate myself to a snow sport and have won an Olympic medal,” he pointed out.
A few minutes earlier, the medallist had made an appearance on the town hall balcony which, as the mayor explained, had not been officially opened since Queen Sofía visited Mijas.
“This shows how important this is for us. Mijas has made history, and it is thanks to a young man from Las Lagunas who, when he was little, was put on a snowboard and now, some years later, has revolutionised Mijas, putting the name of our town at the very top of Spanish sport,” he said. “After the gold won by Francisco Fernández Ochoa at Sapporo 1972, and the bronze won by his sister Blanca 20 years later in Albertville, Spain has not achieved anything like this and now this Mijas athlete has made us famous in international sport at the Winter Olympics 2018 in Pyeongchang.”
The councillor for Sports, Nuria Rodríguez, said that Regino “is an example of values and a straightforward and humble athlete, despite having risen so high. I am very impressed by the message he gave to the children who were waiting at the door of the town hall to greet him. He told them that 'impossible' is nothing more than an opinion.”
At the end of the reception, Regino Hernández answered questions from the press and gave them more details about the race which ended with him winning the medal.
“At the moment when my competitors suffered that fall, I knew that nobody could stop me winning a medal. I gave it everything I had to try to get a silver or gold, but I couldn't be happier with this success,” he explained.
Hernández also admitted that the first thought that went through his head when he finished the race was how proud his family were going to be, and when he saw his father “he gave me such a big hug he almost broke me in two,” he said.
Regino Hernández, alongside the other six Winter Olympians including fellow medallist and friend Javier Fernández, was also greeted by prime minister Mariano Rajoy at a reception at Moncloa on Wednesday. Hernández presented the PM with a signed helmet.