Today, Tarragona is the city where dreams become reality: athletes’ dreams of glory, after years of preparation. But, above all, the dreams of a province where the people are moving mountains to make sure that everything goes perfectly. Everything is set for the opening ceremony of the 18th edition of the Mediterranean Games on June 21st.
The air is filled with excitement, happiness, and above all, passion. The people of Tarragona are putting their life and soul into celebrating the Games. The volunteers are an excellent example of this: 8,000 people signed up to take part in preparations — without them, the events would not be possible.
It is understandable that Tarragona is treating the Mediterranean Games like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Twenty-six nations will have their eyes glued to this city until July 1st. And, as the t-shirts and polos worn by everyone involved in its organization tell us, the city is “ready to make history.”
It’s not only those who live in the province that are excited… for local athletes, these 10 days of sporting events are a dream come true. This is how Berta Castells feels. Berta is a hammer-thrower from Torredembarra, a town situated just 15 minutes from Tarragona. Her record is so spectacular that even she finds it hard to keep track of: “I’ve been the Spanish champion five times, and I’ve taken part in three Olympic Games, five World Championships, and five European Championships.”
Berta remembers when “at 12 or 13”, she competed in lower categories and was given the opportunity to compete in this very stadium, which has been renovated and adapted to meet the needs of the international sports bodies, to welcome the Mediterranean Games. “My target for this Mediterranean Games is to equal — and why not? — beat my Spanish record and all-time best,” she tells us with a smile.
Castells also remembers those first few years, when she shared a throwing circle with Nil Bartolozzi, the local artist that Repsol chose to paint the five Tarracus that decorate the city. “I ran the 100 and 200 meters, and she was a hammer thrower,” he relates. “But she began to take off as an athlete right away, and I decided to leave it,” he adds. However, his passion for sport and particularly athletics lives on. In fact, he tells us, “I don’t know how to walk, I run everywhere.”
A sustainable mascot
Tarracus, the mascot for the Mediterranean Games, is everywhere at the moment in Tarragona. It was created through a competition, which more than 10,000 students from the province took part in. The winner was Aleix Girona, and his original design was adapted by designer Jean Jullien. The figure has Roman helmet that reflects the area’s cultural roots.
Repsol, as a sponsor of this edition of the Games, received one of five sculptures of Tarracus to be placed at the Company’s facilities in the La Pobla de Mafumet. When it came down to “decoration,” the choice was up to Nil. “When the industrial facility turned 25 a few years back, we hired his father, Rafael Bartolozzi, to create a commemorative logo for the anniversary. When they offered to let us personalize a Tarracus, we thought we could continue the Bartolozzi saga. Thus, we spoke to Nil, proposed the idea to him, and he was really excited to accept”, says Pep Bertrán, head of communications for the Tarragona Industrial Facility.
“The figure of Tarracus alludes to natural environmentalism, and how nature creates its own anti-plastic. It represents a micro-spore that exists in the Amazon, which is able to break down polyurethane,” Bartolozzi explains. The artist has tried to, in his own words, “reflect Repsol’s wish to be sustainable and more environmentally friendly.”
Berta Castells was in charge of presenting Repsol with Tarracus and acted as a guarantor. She feels that the “very special occasion” allowed her to reunite with Nil, after many years. A meeting that shows that the Mediterranean Games are about much more than just sport: they are the coming-together of shared dreams for people who live all over the province.