I only posted this article about Rafa because it has a quote by our Alex:
Trio at top of the class in 2005
Young Spaniards Alonso, Pedrosa and Nadal all excelled in their different sporting fields
El Pais Spain | MANEL SERRAS
What a trio Spain has to put on its sporting podium for 2005. Three young men changed the image of Spanish sport last year: Rafael Nadal, Fernando Alonso and Dani Pedrosa.
When Fernando Alonso climbed into his Renault at the Interlagos track in Sao Paolo last September, needing only a third place to take the Formula 1 championship - the 24-year allowed Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen to take first and second places - he became the first Spaniard, as well as the youngest person ever, to win the top motor racing crown.
Alonso's victory was also a very personal one. He had succeeded in checking his aggression, keeping his nerve, and overcoming pressure. Alonso had made a good start to the season, winning four of the first seven races, giving him a 32-point lead over Kimi Raikkonen. Renault was not the fastest car in the championship, but Alonso's car was reliable. The young driver understood that the road to victory lay in taking advantage of this factor, and he drove carefully, at times cautiously, while the McLaren and Ferrari drivers were repeatedly held back by their cars' technical limitations.
After becoming champion, Alonso reminded the world that he owed his position to nobody but himself and his family. He could have remembered Genís Marcó, who had helped him when he was still driving karts, or Adrián Campos, the man who introduced him to the world of Formula 1. A couple of weeks later, after the last race of the season, in Shanghai, Alonso seemed to gain a new perspective on the situation, celebrating with his team after it had secured the constructor's title.
Dani Pedrosa's career has been no less meteoric. In 2003 he won motor cycling's 125cc title, and has now taken two 250cc titles in a row. After these three fast-learning seasons, the 20-year-old will move up into the MotoGP category this year to face the great Valentino Rossi.
Last season was perhaps Pedrosa's toughest. He crashed out in the Japanese Grand Prix, with just six races to go. It looked as though his title was on the line. He had injured his shoulder, and was unsure about racing in Malaysia and Qatar - a fact he kept secret at the time. He came in fourth in Malaysia, and the critics said he was cracking under the pressure. "Unlike others, we have always believed in our ability," he said at the time. "We knew that his shoulder was damaged," said manager Alberto Puig. His rivals didn't know they were competing against a rider with one arm. Dani's performance was incredible."
In some ways, Pedrosa seems older than his years, having managed to deal with physical injury and the pressure of top-level sport. But when taking the title on October 16, he showed his younger side - pulling a t-shirt over his leathers showing a ninja warrior brandishing a Jedi light sword, his face painted Braveheart blue.
Nadal and family
Younger still is Nadal, although his strong physical presence, matched by an equally robust mentality, places him head and shoulders above his rivals. Little wonder that he was already tipped to win at Roland Garros, ahead of world number one Roger Federer.
Nadal was in no hurry, and simply overcame the obstacles in his way in Paris. He dismissed Federer in the semifinals, going on to beat Argentine Mariano Puerta - now banned for doping - in the final. Unlike Pedrosa and Alonso's victories, there was no sense of reproach or bitterness in Nadal's moment of triumph. This was simply a young man at the top of his game, on top of the world. Nadal congratulated his rival, and then made his way into the crowd to greet his family, as well as manager Carlos Costa, and other friends. "They all seemed so happy," said a tearful Nadal. He gave the impression that the most important aspect of winning the French Open was being able to make his family happy.
He has learned this approach from his uncle Toni, who has trained him since he was a child, as well his other uncle, Miquel Àngel, a former Barcelona soccer player, and of course, his father, Sebastià. "Simply because he is able to hit the ball across the net faster and better than his rivals doesn't make Rafa more important than anybody else," says Toni Nadal. Rafa is pursuing his career with absolute confidence, prioritizing the important things in life, and ignoring the trivial.
He is now ranked second in the world having won 11 titles in 2005. "What Rafa has managed to achieve at 19 is amazing, and almost impossible for anybody else to copy," says 1998 Masters Champion Álex Corretja