Premio Citius Tallius Fortius | Ona Carbonell. With the retirement of Ona Carbonell, made official last May in an event at the headquarters of the Spanish Olympic Committee, the last protagonist of the most successful stage of Spanish synchronized swimming – now artistic – hung up her swimsuit. A boom that had her dark side and that Ona evoked in her farewell. The former swimmer added her name to those of other great exponents of this modality such as Gemma Mengual and Andrea Fuentes, her partners in the duo at the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Games, respectively. She took over as ‘prima donna’ of the Spanish ‘synchro’ and forged a career as intense in experiences as it was fruitful in results.
Hers, two Olympic medals in London, 22 in World Cups, and a dozen more European medals throughout an international career that began at the 2007 World Cups and concluded fourteen years later, are more than enough merits to include her among the greats in the history of the sport of her.
Ona mimicked the ambition, the nonconformist character, the interpretative vein of her most veteran colleagues and channeled them to measure themselves face to face, with their own weapons, with the best specialists of the ‘synchro’ who touched her as rivals. And she always left the distinctive stamp of her swimming.
The national sport has enjoyed a large number of champions who achieved excellence in their disciplines, but in a few cases, the brilliance of their feats transcended. When Ona’s career was approaching its end, she wanted to bear witness to one of those circumstances that usually go unnoticed, and that represent an added challenge in sport: motherhood.
With a track record that she did not need to enrich even further, she embarked on preparing for her third Olympic Games while breastfeeding her first child, with the unexpected complication of a pandemic that put the entire world on standby. Others had done it before, but she became a champion of the conciliation between elite sport and motherhood, with the help and complicity of her colleagues and coaches.
That is another valuable legacy of Ona. Once materialized, she took the final step. “It is not fair for Spanish sport to be half-measure,” she justified her withdrawal, that of a woman who was not satisfied with going through sport but also left her mark.