Celia Barquin: A Tribute to the Spanish Golf Champion

Celia Barquin was a rising star. At age 22, the Spanish-born golfer was a top-ranked athlete at Iowa State University. This past July, she won the European Ladies’ Amateur Championship. The future looked very bright for Barquin.

But the young star’s life came to a tragic, and sudden end. On Monday, police in Ames, Iowa found Barquin’s body in a pond. She had stab wounds to her head, neck, and upper body, and there was evidence that she was assaulted before being murdered. Police have charged Collin Daniel Richards with her murder and so far believe that he chose Barquin as his victim at random.

As police follow up on evidence connecting Richards to the horrific crime, this is a good time to remember Celia Barquin’s life. Here’s what you need to know:


1. Barquin Hailed from the Northern Spanish Region of Cantabria

Cantabria is an autonomous community located way, way up in the north of Spain. The area is famous for its moderate climate, its lush greenery, and for some historic cave paintings which still survive in the Cave of Altamira.

Barquin was a hero to Cantrabria, and the community is in mourning now. “Celia was an extraordinary girl, studious, and with an extraordinary future in sturts, and this is a tremendous event which has left us all very low,” said Miguel Angel Revilla, the president of the autonomous community of Cantabria.

Barquin grew up in Puente San Miguel, a small city in the municipality of Reocin, in Cantabria. All of Reocin observed a moment of silence for Barquin and will observe three days of official mourning.


2. Barquin Was Named Iowa State Female Athlete of the Year

Barquin has been called “one of the most accomplished players in Cyclone golf history.” (The Cyclones are Iowa State’s female golf team.) Barquin was named Iowa State Female Athlete of the year and was only the second woman golfer in Iowa State history to medal at a conference when she won the 2018 Big 12 Championship.

But faculty and students at Iowa State said they would miss Barquin for her personality, rather than simply her athletic prowess. Barquin, a civil engineering student, was remembered for her positive energy, her hard work, and her dedication.

“Celia had an infectious smile, a bubbly personality and anyone fortunate enough to know her was blessed,” Iowa State Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard said. “Our Cyclone family mourns the tragic loss of Celia, a spectacular student-athlete and ISU ambassador.”

The Cyclones’ head coach, Christie Martens, said, “We are all devastated Celia was a beautiful person who was loved by all her teammates and friends. She loved Iowa State and was an outstanding representative for our school. We will never forget her competitive drive to be the best and her passion for life.”


3. For Barquin, Golf Was Always Associated With Family and Memories of Home

In 2015, Barquin gave an interview to the student edition of the Spanish newspaper El Pais. She said that it was no surprise she’d turned out to be an avid golfer: after all, her earliest memories were of watching her family play golf all around her. “My parents and my siblings were playing golf when I was born, so it was a family pastime,” Barquin told El Pais.

She added, “as I grew a little older, they put a little golf club in my hands, and within four days I had fallen in love with the sport.”

Barquin acknowledged that becoming a serious golf player had meant she had to sacrifice in order to dedicate herself to the sport. She said there had been some “horrible moments” along the way. But, the young golfer said, she wouldn’t change a single one of them — or a single thing about her life.


4. Her Teachers Remembered Her As a Hardworking, Gifted Student

Pablo Diestro is the mayor of Reocin, the municipality in Cantabria where Barquin grew up. But he is also a schoolteacher, who taught Barquin when she was a young girl. He described her death as a tragic, tragic event. “It was a big blow,” Diestro said. “Besides, with the character that she had, hard working, good student…she was a very complete girl. It is a very, very tragic piece of news.”

Barquin was also remembered as a dedicated student at Iowa State, where she was studying for a degree in civil engineering.

Reocin is observing three days of mourning for Celia Barquin; the municipality has already observed a moment of silence for their hometown hero.


5. She Was a Fan of Spanish Rock

Barquin was a Spaniard living in Iowa; she had one foot in each country, so to speak. She loved Iowa State and the Cyclones, and devoted herself to winning games for the team. But she also adored Spanish rock and roll — especially bands from her own region of Cantabria. Barquin listed “Rulo y la Contrabanda” as one of her favorite bands. Rulo y Contrabanda’s lead singer, Raul Gutierrez, comes from Reinosa, a city in Cantabria. You can hear more of the group’s music here.

Barquin also loved the Spanish-Ecuadoran rapper El Chojin. The rapper, who grew up near Madrid, is famous for addressing social themes and political issues. You can hear El Chojin’s music here.

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