Tributes paid to Spanish Olympic medallist Blanca Fernandez Ochoa

The 56-year-old's body was found on Wednesday. She was the first Spanish woman to win a Winter Olympic medal.

Tributes have been paid to Blanca Fernandez Ochoa after the death of the former alpine skiier, aged 56.

Fernandez Ochoa was the first woman to win a Winter Olympic medal for Spain.

The four-time Olympian had been reported missing by her daughter on 23 August, leading to a public appeal by Spanish police.

On Wednesday (4 September), her body was found in the Sierra de Cercedilla mountain range northwest of Madrid, according to Spanish national press agency EFE.

Spanish police later confirmed her death, thanking volunteers who had helped in the search.

Tributes

The Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) were among the first to react to the news.

Alejandro Blanco, president of the COE, said: "Absolutely dismayed and sorry for the death of Blanca Fernandez Ochoa.

"My most sincere condolences and that of the entire Spanish Olympic movement to family and friends. Today we sadly say goodbye to a legend of Spanish and world sport. Rest in peace."

Basketball star Pau Gasol tweeted: "This smile will always be in our memory."

Other stars who sent their condolences include Olympic badminton champion Carolina Marin, rhythmic gymnastics silver medallist Lourdes Mohedano, swimming star Mireia Belmonte, and figure skating bronze medallist Javier Fernandez.

Messages were also sent from within Spanish football, as clubs such as Real Madrid and Valencia joined La Liga and the national football federation in tweeting tributes.

The country's acting prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, thanked emergency services and volunteers who had been searching for the missing skier.

Meanwhile, acting sports minister Jose Guirao described Fernandez Ochoa as "a great athlete, a woman who put Spanish sport on the highest level."

Spain's rugby federation sent its condolences to Fernandez Ochoa's daughter who originally raised the alarm, Olivia Fresneda, who is a national team member.

Who was Blanca Fernandez Ochoa?

Fernandez Ochoa was born in Madrid in 1963, part of a big skiing family.

Four of her siblings also represented Spain in the sport at the Winter Olympics. Her brother Francisco won gold at Sapporo 1972.

Fernandez Ochoa herself attended the 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992 Winter Games, winning bronze in slalom in Albertville.

She was part of the Olympic Channel 'On The Line' series reflecting on her Albertville '92 appearance.

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