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Princess of Asturias Awards

06/19/2013

José María Olazábal, Prince of Asturias Award for Sports

Spanish golfer José María Olazábal was bestowed with the 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Sports, as made public on 19th September in Oviedo by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award.

Jósé María Olazábal, 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Sports. ©FPA

The jury for this Award –convened by the Prince of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by Arancha Sánchez-Vicario Santacana and composed of José María Abad Casamayor, David Álvarez González, Abel Antón Rodrigo, Óscar Campillo Madrigal, Marisol Casado Estupiñán, Josep María Casanovas i Punti, Enrique Castro González, “Quini”, Joaquín Folch Rusiñol-Corachán, Jorge Garbajosa Chaparro, María del Carmen Izquierdo Vergara, Javier Muñoz Gallego, Santiago Nolla Zayas, José Perurena López, Julián Redondo Pérez, María Rodríguez Escario and Josep Lluis Vilaseca i Guasch (acting as secretary).

This candidature was proposed by Gonzaga Escauriaza Barreiro, President of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation and seconded, among others, by the presidents of the golf federations of Hungary, Italy, England, France, Netherlands, Norway, United States, Portugal, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Scotland, Ukraine and Austria, the International Golf Federation and more than 2,000 signatures.

José María Olazábal was born in Hondarribia (Guipúzcoa) in 1966. He started playing golf at four years of age at the Royal Golf Club of San Sebastian, where his father worked. Before becoming a professional player in 1985, he won several amateur tournaments such as the Junior World Cup (Atlanta, 1982), the Gold Medal at the Mediterranean Games (Casablanca, 1983) and the British Youths Amateur Championship (1985). He won his first two European Tour titles in 1986: the Ebel European Masters Swiss Open and the Sanyo Open. That same year, he was named best rookie of the year on the European Tour Order of Merit, coming second in the overall rankings. He made his debut in the Ryder Cup in 1987, playing a crucial role alongside Severiano Ballesteros (1989 Prince of Asturias Award for Sports) in Europe’s first win on American soil in the history of this competition. He won his first tournament in the United States in 1990, the World Series, held in Akron (Ohio). At the end of the 1994 season, he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and stopped competing for two years.

Winner of the Augusta Masters Tournament on two occasions (1994 and 1999), he was a member of Europe’s Ryder Cup team seven times, winning on four occasions. After his last appearance in the Ryder Cup (2006), he was elected captain of the European team in 2012, the second Spaniard to assume this responsibility after Severiano Ballesteros, who was captain in 1997. Furthermore, the European Tour Players Committee appointed him as the only candidate, the result of the admiration and respect that the figure of Olazábal awakens amongst professionals. His election also attracted praise from members of the US team. During the contest for the Ryder Cup, the only sporting competition in which Europe participates as a team, Olazábal showed great leadership, achieving victory over the United States on their own course. Against all odds, Europe rallied from four points behind, stealing victory in extremis in one of the moments considered epic in the golfing world. This victory has become known in the history of the sport as “the Miracle of Medinah”, after the name of the course where the Ryder Cup was played. The final result was 14.5 points for Europe and 13.5 for the United States.

A world-renowned golfer, he is known for his competitive spirit and his ability to go even further. Holder of the honorific title of “Favourite Son” of Hondarribia, he has received the Gold Medal for Sporting Merit (1997). In 2009, he was elected to the prestigious World Golf Hall of Fame, which brings together a group of players considered the best in the history of the sport, being the only Spaniard, along with Severiano Ballesteros, to hold this honour.

According to the Statutes of the Foundation, the Prince of Asturias Awards aim “to reward scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work carried out at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions”. As part of this spirit, the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports shall be conferred on those “whose lives and work are not only examples to others, but who have also contributed in an extraordinary manner through their efforts to the advancement, nurturing, fostering or dissemination of sport”.

The Regulations establish that the following may present nominations for the different Prince of Asturias Award categories: award winners from previous editions, those personalities and institutions invited to do so by the Foundation, Spanish embassies, diplomatic missions in Spain, the members of the eight juries, provided they do not submit nominations for the Award in the category corresponding to the Jury of which they are a member, and other personalities and institutions of renown.

This year a total of 19 candidatures from Andorra, Argentina, Hungary, India, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, South Africa, The Philippines, United Kingdom, United States and Spain ran for the award.

This was the seventh of eight Prince of Asturias Awards to be bestowed this year for the thirty third time. The Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts went to Austrian filmmaker and playwright Michael Haneke, the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences was given to Dutch sociologist Saskia Sassen, the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities went to US photographer Annie Leibovitz , the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research was jointly bestowed on physicists Peter Higgs (UK) and François Englert (Belgium), together with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature was given to Spanish writer Antonio Muñoz Molina and the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation went to the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science. The Prince of Asturias Award for Concord will be announced 4th September.

Each Prince of Asturias Award comprises a Joan Miró sculpture, representing and symbolising the Awards, a cash prize of 50,000 euros, a diploma and an insignia. The awards will be presented in the autumn in Oviedo at a grand ceremony chaired by H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias.

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