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Carolina Marín

Princess of Asturias Award for Sports 2024

Carolina Marín Martín was born in Huelva on 15th June 1993. She began practicing badminton when she was eight years old at the IES La Orden Recreational Club in her hometown. After garnering several victories at the regional level and several Spanish championship titles, she was selected at the age of fourteen to enter the High Performance Centre of the Spanish Council for Sports in Madrid, where she has become the greatest badminton player in the history of this sport in Spain and one of the best in the world.

Olympic champion –the first and only non-Asian player to win this title–, three-time world champion, seven-time European champion (the latest in 2024) and the first European to achieve two consecutive world titles (2014 and 2015), after winning the 2018 World Cup Carolina Marín became the first player in the world to win three titles in this competition. Moreover, she has contributed to the promotion and popularization of badminton in Spain and has become one of the country’s most acclaimed athletes. She garnered her first international victories in lower categories. In 2009, she was the first Spaniard to win a medal in the European Championships: silver in the European Junior Championships and gold in the European Under-17 Championships. In 2011, she was proclaimed European youth champion and, the following year, she participated in the London Olympic Games, won bronze in the Junior World Cup, ninth overall, and reached 26th place in the world rankings. In 2013, she played with the Bangalore Banga Beats team from India (now Bengaluru Raptors) in the inaugural year of the Indian Badminton League, one of the most important in the world, and became the first Spaniard to win a Badminton Grand Prix, the London Grand Prix Gold. In 2014, she was proclaimed European champion in April and world champion in August, becoming the third European player to win a World Cup Gold medal, after Danish players Lene Køppen (1977) and Camilla Martin (1999). Furthermore, at the age of twenty-one, she was the youngest of the three to win this title. In March 2015, she won her first Premier Super Series title, the All England Open, which allowed her to rise to fourth place in the international ranking. Her subsequent victories in the Malaysian and Australian Opens took her to the number one ranking, something that a European had not achieved since 2010. At the World Championships held in Jakarta (Indonesia) in August 2015, she retained her world title, a feat that had only previously been achieved by four Chinese players: Li Lingwei (1983 and 1989), Han Aiping (1985 and 1987), Ye Zhaoying (1995-1997) and Xie Xingfang (2005 and 2006). In 2016, she was once again proclaimed European champion and garnered her first Olympic championship title by winning the gold medal at the Rio Games. In 2017, 2018 and 2021, she added three new continental championships to her list of achievements, in addition to her third world title in 2018. In 2021, a knee injury prevented her from competing in the 2020 Tokyo Games, but she returned to the courts in 2022 to win her sixth European title. In 2023, she achieved second place in the world championship and the gold medal at the European Games held in Poland. That same year, she won her second title at the prestigious All England Open and her seventh European championship title.

Among other honours, Carolina Marín has received the Bronze Medal (2014) and Gold Medal (2016) of Spain’s Royal Order of Sports Merit, the Queen Letizia National Sports Award for Best Spanish Athlete of the Year (2014), the Medal of Huelva (2015), the Best Spanish Athlete Award from the Spanish Olympic Committee (2015), the distinction of Best Player of the Year from the European Badminton Federation (2015) and Best World Player from the International Badminton Federation (2015), the Medal of Andalusia (2018), the Sports Values Award conferred by Sport newspaper and Prensa Ibérica publishing house (2020), and the Plaza de España Award from the Government Delegation in Andalusia (2021).

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