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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 24 October, 2019
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Body of missing Olympic medallist found in Spain

Blanca Fernández Ochoa was last seen on 24 August.

Blanca Fernandez Ochoa, pictured in 1991.
Blanca Fernandez Ochoa, pictured in 1991.
Image: Imago/PA Images

THE BODY OF a missing Winter Olympics medallist was found in a mountainous area near Madrid yesterday after days of searches for her by hundreds of police and volunteers, officials have said.

Blanca Fernández Ochoa (56) won a bronze medal skiing for Spain in the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, becoming the country’s first female Winter Olympic medallist.

She had been missing since she was last seen on surveillance video at a shopping centre on 24 August.

Her car was later found in a car park near the start of a hiking trail in Cercedilla, a mountainous village near Madrid. Authorities have said they are still investigating the cause of her death.

“Solidarity, support and human warmth have been felt these days in the mountains of Cercedilla.

“Security forces and many volunteers have taken part in the search for Blanca Fernández Ochoa. But nothing could be done. My affection to all her family,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted.

Hundreds of police, firefighters, forest rangers and volunteers, backed by helicopters, drones and tracking dogs, had taken part in the search for Fernández Ochoa.

Her family only alerted the authorities about her disappearance on 29 August because they said it was not unusual for her to go on hikes in the area, even without her phone, according to Spanish media reports.

Public appeal 

Police on Saturday issued an appeal on social media for help from the public in locating Fernández Ochoa along with a picture of her, which drew media attention to her disappearance.

She was well-known in Spain, where she had taken part in several TV reality shows after retiring from sports.

Her older brother, Francisco Fernández Ochoa, won a gold medal for skiing in the 1972 Winter Olympics in Japan. He is the first and only Spaniard to have won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.

There is a statue in his honour in Cercedilla.

Until 2018 the brother and sister were the only Spaniards to have won medals at a Winter Olympics.

“It is a very sad day for Spanish sports,” Spain’s secretary of state for sports, Maria Jose Rienda, said in a statement.

© AFP 2019  

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