23 July 1980: Spain wins first Olympic medal for swimming

David López, celebrating his bronze in Moscow in July 1980.
David López, celebrating his bronze in Moscow in July 1980. / SUR
  • David López-Zubero came third in the 100-metre butterfly event at the Summer Olympics in Moscow, winning the coveted bronze medal for his country

On 23 July 1980, David López-Zubero became the first Spanish swimmer to win an Olympic medal. He came third in the 100 metres butterfly with a time of 55 .13 seconds, earning him a bronze at the Games in Moscow. The gold medal for this event was won by Sweden's Pär Arvidsson, with a time of 54.92, and silver was taken by Germany's Roger Pyttel, who completed the race in 54.94 seconds.

David represented Spain in three consecutive Olympics, starting in 1976, and in the 1984 edition he tied in twelfth place in the 100 metre butterfly and came eleventh with the Spanish men's team in the 4 x 1,000 freestyle relay. He is the the older brother of the 1992 Olympic champion in the 200-metre backstroke, Martin López-Zubero.

Spain has a long history of competing inthe Olympic Games. The country first took part in 1900, and Spanish athletes have competed in most Summer Olympics since 1920, although it withdrew from the competition in Nazi Germany in 1936 because of the Spanish Civil War, and it also boycotted the 1956 Games in Melbourne because of the Soviet Union's invasion of Hungary. Spain has, however, participated in every Winter Games since 1936.

Altogether, Spanish athletes have won 151 medals in 28 sports since the Summer Olympic Games began, with golds for sailing, canoeing, cycling, athletics, gymnastics, judo, tennis, swimming, taekwondo, field hockey, horse-riding, football, water polo, weightlifting, archery, badminton and Basque pelota. Spain also won a gold medal for Alpine skiing in the Winter Games at Saporro in 1972, thanks to the late Franciso Fernandez Ochoa's surprise win in the slalom.

Although Spain has applied to host the Olympics on numerous occasions, it has only been selected once, Barcelona in 1992. However, those Games have been described as the most successful ever.