SPANISH swimmer Ona Carbonell has made it onto the BBC’s 2022 100 Women list, which highlights ‘inspiring and influential women from around the world’. She is the only Spaniard to make this year’s list. 

The artistic swimmer, the BBC writes, ‘campaigns to normalise perceptions of being both a mother and an elite athlete’. A three-time Olympian, ‘she has collected more than 30 major medals, including Olympic silver and bronze’.

The BBC also points to how Carbonell, 32, had her first child in 2020 before starting her training for the Tokyo Olympics. ‘She voiced her disappointment over rules that meant she couldn’t breastfeed her son at the event,’ says the BBC. ‘This year, she became a mother for the second time. She told her story in a documentary to show other female athletes that motherhood can be compatible with sport.’

It was in July 2021 that Carbonell used social media to highlight the choice that she had to make between breastfeeding her baby and her participation in the Tokyo Olympics. She was permitted by the International Olympic Committee to take her son with her, but was subject to draconian conditions while in Japan due to the coronavirus pandemic. That experience prompted her to campaign to ‘normalise something that should be normal but obviously isn’t’.

After she had her second child, her documentary, Empezar de nuevo (Starting over), was released. It followed her during her first pregnancy and her intensive training. Thanks to her campaigning and exposure, she caught the attention of high-profile newspapers such as The New York Times, and has now been recognised on the BBC’s prestigious list.

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