Three seasons at the Spar Citylift Girona have put an end to the sporting career of Núria Martínez who, at the age of 36 and after not renewing with Uni, jumps off the tracks in the world of work proud of the career she has made between Mataró, Barcelona, Salamanca, Moscow, Minnesota, Valencia, Kayseri, Istanbul, Schio and Girona. “I am very happy when I now receive messages from Turkey or Italy congratulating me,” he says
– Yes, call me at two we’ll talk while I go to lunch.
At 36, after almost two decades of racing in Spain, Russia, the United States, Turkey and Italy in addition to two Olympic Games, Núria Martínez has not taken a vacation. Last week he announced that he was retiring from the tracks and she is already working in Mataró taking advantage of the degree in Business Administration and Management. He finished it a couple of years ago at the UOC, when he was already in Girona, where he has played the last three seasons of his long career. Without the possibility of continuing in Fontajau, the base of Mataró has not chosen this time to pack again despite having to be clear “somehow or other I’m sure I’ll end up having a relationship with basketball.” Of course, it will be easier to see her playing a 3×3 than leading a team from the bench.
And now what does Núria Martínez do without playing basketball?
Now I do a lot of family life, a lot of social life … and work. I have a new routine with office hours and am adapting to it.
Don’t tell me you don’t do sports.
It’s tricky, but I keep training a bit and trying to stay fit. Not like I was before, but I did stay. It’s a matter of habits.
When did you decide to retire?
There was no specific moment. That moment when I said “I’m retiring.” It has been a decision made in time and with different factors that has finally made me decide to retire.
The injury, the coronavirus … If last season had been different, would your decision have been the same?
No, because I’ve been walking around for a year now. I wish the last year hadn’t been like that, but without injury or coronavirus, maybe the decision would have been the same. The emergence of a good job opportunity has also had a lot of weight in the decision.
Look back. Would you have ever imagined everything you have done, and lived, playing basketball?
No, of course I would never have imagined it. I’ve always enjoyed basketball, as a kid but then again, as a way to have fun doing what I love. I saw that he was doing well, that of playing basketball, but I would never have thought I had the trajectory I had. There has been a lot of sacrifice to achieve this and now is when I really value it.
Mataró, Barcelona, Salamanca, Moscow, Minnesota, Valencia, Kayseri, Istanbul, Schio and Girona. No one will be able to say that Núria Martínez was afraid to pack her bags and live a new adventure.
Yes. I have had the opportunity to live in many places, different countries, and I have met many people I would never have met while staying at home. Arriving in a new country, being a foreigner on the team, having to take responsibility … Going abroad made me grow as a player, but above all as a person.
He once told me that one of the things I was most proud of about basketball was all the people and places I had known.
I’m super happy about that. These days it has made me very happy that people from Italy or people from Istanbul send me messages congratulating me on my career. I leave with the feeling that people are left with a good aftertaste of my sporting career. As a player and as a person, both things. And that’s what I value and care about most now.
The first jump was to leave for Salamanca. Was he 19 years old and played three very good seasons with Avenida?
This is where it all begins for me. The Salamanca stage marked me a lot, because it was my first experience away from home in a Women’s League team. But in perspective, all the stages have marked me because after Salamanca I jumped straight to Dinamo Moscow and that was an extreme change. From night to day. In each place I had to adapt to what I was in each club and each country, to what I was asked …
From Salamanca to Moscow. When even less usual to go outside. Did she have to be brave there?
Of course. A lot of people told me it wasn’t the time, but I was young and really looking forward to living the experience abroad. I was brave, also thanks to the fact that my environment has always supported me. And this is very important.
After Moscow, going to Turkey and Italy should seem easy
(Laughter). Yes, I guess so. Then everything is smoother. Well, Turkey had its moment too.
Woman and sportswoman. Isn’t that the best combination in Turkey?
My first year was not in Istanbul but in Kayseri, which is a more conservative, more Muslim city. I was going there a bit in anticipation of seeing how I would find myself. The truth is that in the end I was very good, both this and the next in Turkey with Galatasaray. There are things that surprise you, but the truth is that foreign women athletes take great care of us and I did not experience any complicated situations. And in Italy it was very easy, because it’s very similar to here. At the age of three months I learned the language and was very comfortable with Schio.
We haven’t talked about the WNBA.
The WNBA is an absolutely different world It has nothing to do. It’s a much more physical basketball where the show has an important component. It should be noted that many resources in the men’s NBA summers are derived from the WNBA: shows, marketing, media …
How did you live it?
It was an experience. I wanted to try it, but when I was two I had enough. If you’ve played in the winter in Europe, playing in the summer in the United States is very exhausting, because it’s almost a full year without resting at all and the four months there are very stressful with chained matches and trips.
In between so many clubs. Many years with the Spanish team, the first medals, two Olympic events …
The Olympics are big words. Athens and Beijing were a dream, as they would be for any athlete. In the meantime, the team has won titles and evolved a lot, but living a Games is special. Of those who are remembered all their lives.
His time in the national team ended before the arrival of a big streak of medals. Are you sorry?
It is a matter of generation. The people who were there when I started, like Betty Cebrián or Ingrid Pons or many highs, have made this selection grow even though many medals have come later. I’ve been part of a generation that I think has done a lot for national team selection and basketball in general.
Now he was quoting, for example, Betti Cebrián. Núria Martínez has played with many players. Impossible to make a choice?
Yes. Impossible. I have played with Mujanovic, Nieves Anula, Betti Cebrian, Amaya Valdemoro, Anna Belén Àlvarez, Elisa Aguilar … I should have so many that I would leave many.
And any, already out of the selection, that you say “and this one that is good”?
Maybe I would tell you Seimone Augustus, who played with me in Minnesota and Moscow. It was really very good and speaking of the ones I’ve played against, I would say players like Diana Taurasi who you already see have something different.
It’s been almost two decades of career. Have you seen basketball change much?
The most important change is the physical. Technically and tactically it has evolved as it played, but in the physical aspect is where the change is most noticeable.
And off the track?
It is slowly improving. More and more people are hooked on sports and women’s basketball. And that helps you have more visibility.
Gradually because an elite male player, the week after retiring usually has no need to work.
We, unfortunately, do not earn the same money as in men’s basketball and that is why it is very important that while we play we continue to train and think about our future. We can’t retire and live off what we’ve earned in basketball.
Now in the office, however, later on, Núria Martínez will have something to do with basketball.
I will probably end up having some kind of relationship there. But I’m not thinking about it. Being linked, however, does not mean being a professional coach. This I am clear not because I do not see myself in it.
And won’t he play some 3×3?
I have this pending. I leave it in the air. I do not rule out that if, in a while, I feel like it and I am physically prepared, I will play 3×3 because it is a sport that is played in the summer and could be combined with work.
Marc Gasol has made a professional men’s 3×3 team in Girona. I could also make a feminine one.
Yes. I’ll talk to him (laughs). I have seen it and I am very happy, because this team will give a lot of visibility to a sport that is very different from 5×5 and it is good that more is known.
I finish, will we see her in Fontajau last summer?
Yes. Of course yes, I will come to Fontajau quite often. Girona has been a very important stage for me. It has been a very good three years where I have felt very comfortable.