Martinez: Medal Chances Remain for Spain
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Sidelined with injury, Spanish national champion Rafael Martinez said he is hoping his teammates can pull a top-12 finish at the world championships in Rotterdam.


Manuel Carballo (Spain)

The Spanish men compete Monday morning in the second subdivision of men's qualification, and will have to wait until Tuesday night to find out their fate. The top eight teams qualify to the team finals, and the top 24 teams advance to the 2011 Worlds in Tokyo.

The Spanish men were seventh at the 2007 Worlds, but were dealt a blow when Martinez, the 2005 European all-around champion, suffered a broken finger this summer.

"I broke my pinky finger on my left hand," he told IG. "I had surgery a month ago, but I'm improving. The finger hurts me now, and is a little swollen but better. I hope to be ready for the all-around at next year's European championships."

Despite his absence, Martinez said his Spanish teammates can still deliver in Rotterdam.

"For the Spanish team, I hope we're in the top 12, and we have a shot at finals for Manuel Carballo or Isaac Botella," said Martinez, sixth all-around at the 2007 Worlds. "I think the most exciting final though will be for the all-around and team."

2010 has been a banner year for Spain in global sports. Tennis star Rafael Nadal won the French and U.S. Opens and Wimbledon, cyclist Alberto Contador won the Tour de France, and in July Spain won its first-ever title at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

But Spain's lucky 2010 won't necessarily continue with the gymnastics worlds, Martinez said.

"Being good in gymnastics is not the same as cycling or football," he said. "It's harder and a lot more difficult to have that extra luck."

But that doesn't mean Martinez wasn't celebrating the success of his countrymen all year. In July, he was among the hundreds of thousands of fans who swarmed the streets of Madrid celebrating Spain's World Cup victory.

"All of Madrid was a party," he said. "It was amazing, and I had the opportunity to congratulate Álvaro Arbeloa and Iker Casillas of Real Madrid, two players who are friends of mine. Iker Casillas and I are both from [Madrid suburb] Mostoles."

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