The stage for padel’s major multi-sport debut

June 27, 2023
The stage for padel’s major multi-sport debut


Source: European Olympic Committees


Padel’s first medallists at a major Games were crowned this weekend in the heart of the historic main square in Kraków city centre.


The padel finals have been a much-anticipated highlight of the European Games 2023 programme and drew capacity crowds to the attractive temporary venue, set against the spectacular backdrop of the UNESCO-listed Kraków Cloth Hall.


Spanish Mixed Doubles pair Noa Canovas and Daniel Santigosa made history yesterday, Sunday, 25 June, by securing padel’s first-ever major Games gold medals, overcoming silver medallists Giulia Sussarello and Marco Cassetta from Italy with Aracelia Martinez and David Gala (ESP) taking bronze.


Later in the day, a fiercely contested Women’s Doubles final saw Italians Carolina Orsi and Giorgia Marchetti edge out Marta Barrera and Marta Caparros (ESP) to take gold, while Daniel Santigosa and David Gala beat their Spanish teammates Alonso Rodriguez and Pablo Garcia for the Men’s Doubles title in a late-night match.


History-maker Canovas (age 18), said: “With Dani (Santigosa), we are super proud because the Spanish federation trusted in us, even though we are so young, and this is an incredible opportunity. Padel is growing so fast, and the Mixed Doubles is a new event for us, but in the end all our effort was worth it.


Double gold medallist Santigosa said: “The feeling is pure happiness. It was difficult to face our friends and teammates in the (Men’s Doubles) final because they know us and we spent the week together, but on the court everything became clearer. I dedicate this medal to my father and my brother.


The fast-growing sport of padel is one of eight new additions to the European Games Kraków-Malopolska 2023, which also features 18 Olympic sports and is a major continental qualifier for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.


Now in its third edition, the European Games has established a pioneering reputation, providing a launchpad for sports and disciplines including Basketball 3×3, which first featured in Baku 2015 on its way to appearing in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.


The five-day padel tournament in Kraków was run in coordination with the International Padel Federation (FIP), which estimates 25 million active padel players around the world. Athletes from 25 countries competed in padel at the European Games.


European Olympic Committees President Spyros Capralos, who attended the final day of competition, said: “Being here and seeing the venue full of people with so much enthusiasm and the mix of music and sport, it is easy to see why padel is developing so fast around Europe. With the European Games, right from the beginning, we have always also tried to find opportunities to include new and developing sports which might become Olympic sports in the future. This is very exciting.”


FIP President Luigi Carraro said: “We have seen the coming-together of a fantastic stage and a fantastic journey. The Games are a very special and unique opportunity for our best padel players, giving them the experience of competing in a national uniform. We can see the proof in the quality of the field and this beautiful, full stadium. FIP believes strongly in multi-sport Games, because they capture what sport is really all about – building friendships with your teammates and athletes from other countries. Today we saw padel deliver a great technical and competitive show, under the banner of fair play and healthy competition. As President Capralos told us, the exam has been passed.


Other new sports on the programme of the European Games Kraków-Malopolska 2023 include beach handball, breaking, kickboxing, muaythai, rugby sevens, (summer) ski jumping and teqball. For the first time, the European Esports Championships will also be held as an official side event of the European Games, opening on 30 June in Katowice.