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If the importance of a legacy is measured by how well it endures in the future, by how it originated – from a deep and strong love for one’s own beliefs; from an unwavering will to serve others, and by the ability to open borders and become an international reference point, without a doubt, the life of my good friend Juan María Tintoré is a perfect treatise. Always active, willing to help, study, plan, discuss and analyse, this vital energy that defined Juan María Tintoré also rubbed off on those of us fortunate enough to spend time with him. And that contagion was absolute, because Juan María’s clock would not allow you to waste a single second.
The first thought that comes to my mind, if we talk about tennis, is that I have known Juan Maria forever. Any reference to my relationship with the world of the racquet always has, in some way, a thread of connection to the president of RCT Barcelona – whether we are talking about grass roots tennis, professional tennis, the challenges at club level, or great international goals. As a current member of the community of the International Olympic Committee I should stress that the global concept launched by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1894 was key to the development of the sport, and it continues to express itself with the utmost force during the Olympic Games. Few people have understood as well as Juan María Tintoré that internationalism is a key component to success.
The ability to work on your ideas and end up shaping something tangible has two great international examples in the legacy of Juan María Tintoré. In 1996, he brought to life his brilliant idea of creating a Centenary Tennis Clubs Association. It was not an empty project, which would serve merely as a label for each entity. It was an idea based on his personal relationships with the managers of those clubs, with common objectives and a collective responsibility for the historical heritage that each of them represented.
Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the Olympic Committee, and a good childhood friend of Juan María Tintoré, was the first person to be consulted about the initiative. He received it with such enthusiasm that he offered, without hesitation, the backing of the IOC plus the Olympic Museum of Lausanne as the headquarters of the new organization. As president of the European Federation then, and later with the responsibility of presiding over the International Tennis Federation, I saw daily the importance and scope of the Association of Centenary Tennis Clubs.
But if there is one thing that distinguishes the instincts of leaders, it is when they react with lucidity and commitment in difficult times. For the Olympic movement, one of the most difficult moments was to witness that Sarajevo, one of the Olympic capitals, had been devastated by war. In 1995, at the request of Pasqual Maragall, then mayor of another Olympic capital (Barcelona), he launched a campaign to help Sarajevo’s youth through sport.
Juan Maria Tintoré did not hesitate for a second upon hearing the request from his city and turned it into a mission of the highest priority. Bursting with enthusiasm, he was successful in bringing the sport of tennis to Sarajevo. Wholeheartedly embraced by the community at RCT Barcelona, from whom he sought assistance at all stages, his initiative not only brought tennis to the people, but also responded to any kind of request for assistance in which he could help.
I’ll always be proud to have been your friend.
ITF President (1999-2015)
IOC Member (2006-2013)
President of the Association of International Summer Olympic Federations (ASOIF, 2012-present)