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Spain keep faith with repechage heroes for Rio
Olympic repechage winners Spain have named their men's and women's squad for Rio 2016.
Spain women's coach José Antonio Barrio has kept faith with the squad that secured Spain the final rugby sevens place at Rio 2016, with all 12 players who won the global Olympic repechage in Dublin last month making the final cut as Las Leonas prepare to play their part in history.
Spain have the honour of playing in the first Olympic rugby sevens match, against France, at the Deodoro Stadium on 6 August, and leading them out once again will be captain Elisabet Martinez.
Martinez is one of seven players to have appeared in all five of the tournaments on the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, and her tally of 17 series tournaments is bettered only by veteran Berta Garcia.
YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
Garcia is one of two 34-year-olds in the squad with Vanesa Rial, another to have chalked up 17 series tournaments, a month older. She will be 34 years and 158 days old when the tournament kicks off.
In total, seven players are in the over-30 age bracket, making 19-year-old Amaia Erbina, the youngest by some distance.
Patricia Garcia, Spain’s two-try hero in the repechage final against Russia, is joined by fellow try-scorer Barbara Pla in the squad of 12. Pla did not feature in the series just gone but made it back in time to help Las Leonas get to Rio.
The historic curtain-raiser against European rivals France will be followed by Pool B matches against one of the pre-tournament favourites New Zealand and Kenya.
Spain’s women finished ninth in the overall series standings, their best result coming in Langford, Canada, when they reached the Plate final.
Eleven of the men's team who beat Samoa in the repechage final in Monaco have also been selected for Rio, the unlucky one to miss out being Pablo Fontes, who is named as one of two reserves. This place is filled by Marcos Poggi.
PASSION: Find out what Olympic qualification means to Spain's Pablo Feijoo in this post-match interview! #RoadtoRiohttps://t.co/aFLEE0yrkI— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) 29 June 2016
Few will forget the sheer emotion showed by Pablo Feijoo after two tries at the death - through Pol Pla and Ignacio Martin - saw Spain fight back to stun Samoa 22-19 in that final.
Spain, coached by José Ignacio Incháusti, will face a tough challenge in Pool B after being drawn with second seeds South Africa, Australia and France, when the men's competition takes place at the Deodoro Stadium from 9-11 August.
Women's squad: Berta Garcia, Paula Medin, Angela Del Pan, Patricia Garcia, Marina Bravo, Elisabet Martinez (captain), Barbara Pla, Amaia Erbina, Maria Casado, Vanessa Rial, Iera Echebarria, Maria Ribera.
Reserves: Irene Schiavon, Lourdes Almeda
Men's squad: Javier Carrión, Pablo Feijoo, Igor Genua, Francisco Hernández, Ángel López, Joan Losada, Ignacio Martín, Pol Pla, Marcos Poggi, César Sempere, Matías Tudela, Iñaki Villanueva.
Reserves: Pablo Fontes, Victor Sánchez
Photo credit: INPHO/Dan Sheridan.