Jesus Carballo, the father figure and architect of the Spanish national teams, has been forced out as the country's head coach following allegations of bad treatment from an athlete he coached during the 1980s.
Carballo has been the heart of the Spanish gymnastics program for the past three decades. He is been the Leonid Arkayev of Spain, overseeing both the men's and women's teams. He coached Elena Gomez to the 2002 World title on floor, and Patricia Moreno to the Olympic bronze on the same event in 2004.
One of his sons, Jesus Carballo Martinez was the 1996 world champion on high bar, and was elected president of the Spanish Gymnastics Federation in 2010. Another son, Manuel, competed for Spain on the international circuit for several years, including the 2007 Worlds.
The Spanish authorities are taking this one seriously. For his part, Carballo told El Mundo that he has "no idea what happened" and that he's "overwhelmed" by receiving a notice of his dismissal from the Spanish Sports Council.
Although a detractor caused his dismissal, Carballo has many supporters as well. Isabel Soria, a national team gymnast who trained with Carballo from 1983 to 1986, told El Mundo she has only "words of love and admiration" for her former coach. "He was like a father to me," she said, adding that like many coaches, he could be harsh, but that "he never disrespected me."
"I find it amazing that after so many years of total dedication to gymnastics, his career ends this way," Soria added. "What happened to the presumption of innocence?"
Carballo the younger also weighed in, saying "everyone is shocked" at what has happened.
These are not heady times for the typically talented Spanish team. After a solid performance at the 2011 World Championships, the women were expected to easily qualify a team to the Olympics at the London Test Event last January, only to be surpassed by Italy, Canada, France, Brazil, Belgium and South Korea after a multiple mistakes.
The Spanish men easily qualified a team to the Olympics by placing third at the Test Event. They did not qualify to the team final in London, however.
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