Susana Irazusta

Extraordinary athlete

click picture

Spanish Champions
San Sebastian Team
From left, standing: Lola Claraco, Margari Adarraga (sister) Tere Lacort y Carmen Adarraga (captai

(foto OF  Eugenio Jimenez)


Elena Irazusta

(hija )
Siguiendo los pasos de su madre.

Carmen Adarraga-Elizaran 


Carmen, one of the best female athlete of the Basque Country and Spain. She trained with his brothers, Jose Luis and Juan Bautista, in the athletic tracks and she confirmed that running was in the family. But like her auntie Maria, who had to endure the criticism of his town-folks, for riding a bike “like a man”, Carmenchu had also to conform to what the Basque men expected from their females.

Carmen confessed me last year, that she was quite keen in having a go at running. She even had a coach interested but athletics was a sport out of the question for her. Your brothers  insisted -- she told me -- that running was an unbecoming sports for women. Do you think they were scared of you beating them in the track? I asked her last year, while in Hernani? She laughed!

University studies out. All her seven brothers attended University but the 5 sisters, had to conform to the "rules". That is, to study  French language, in a French college, learn house-keeping and raising children, and at best, to do a course in “Magisterio” (teaching) was the norm. Women Liberation Movement wasn't born yet in Euskalerria (Basque Country)

Basketball, a female Sport. Women were allowed to play basketball, a sport too “soft" for man. Cycling, athletics etc were out of bounds, they were to tough for women!

Basketball court. We built a “fronton” (handball court) using the west wall of the Chocolate Factory as the left wall of the court. On the rebound wall, her father Luis, installed a basketball ring for her daughters to train. All sisters were good at this  sports but she was, Carmenchu, the most dedicated and she would expend hours and hours training. Eeventually, she became the best basketball player of the Basque Country and Spain.

 First showers.  As a corollary to the progress of Hygiene in sport at that time, I like to mention that my father and tio Pepe had the bright idea of building a shower-room next to the fronton, for after exercise. It was the first one in town and they taught that having a shower after a workout was “HYGIENIC”. I remember that Paco Bueno, the European middle weight champion, travelling by train from Renteria, his home town, to be able to have a shower after training. I’ll finish this corollary by confessing that hygienic or not, we missed many showers when the temperature dropped to around zero degrees centigrade. Hot water shower had not been invented yet. That was around 1940.

Again, the shower was out of bounds for the females athletes.

Let me select a few interesting excerpts, translated from Eugenio Jimenez' research article: "On the origins of Basketball in Guipuzcoa"**:

"In 1939, the Seccion Femenina de la Falange de San Sebastian won in  Madrid the Spanish Championship, with hardly knowing the rules of the game."

The same team "Won the first National Title in 1939. Won again in 1940. Finalist in 1941 and won again in 1942 (40 to 14 against Madrid) in a final played in Palma de Mallorca. For the championships they travel by rail, in third class,   to Barcelona where they took the boat to Palma. The team was composed by Carmen Adarraga, Tere and Merche Lacort, Lola Claraco, Maria Claret and Carmen  Banus."

"Adarraga y Merche Lacort
Another curious fact: The hernaniar (from Hernani) Carmen Adarraga as captain and the donostiar (from Donosti, San Sebastian) play with the first spanish selection against Italy on the 1 August 1942.
In those days you played without referees and in the open... The ring support frames were made of timber. The defence players would be just defence players. They would not shoot to  basket. Two forwards would run to place themselves under the ring and a centre player was responsible to organized the team."

Carmenchu, after many years in the limelight, retire quietly from sports to raise a family . There was no fuss. Everybody forgot soon about her, one of the best athlete of the Adarraga Dinasty and no doubt, of Spain. They were the days...

As Eugenio Jimenez remarks in his article: "It is unthinkable (he uses the expression equivalent to "it makes you bleed") that Gipuzkoa never honoured Carmen Adarraga nor Merche Lacort, who were in the first Spanish International fight, which  was broadcast by radio to the whole country".

As many athletes of the time, she also participated en other team sports, at national level, like handball (11 players) and  hockey (on grass) and always excelled in them.

As an Adarraga, she play sport for the  love of it.

Camen married Leandro Irazusta,
a well known cyclist.that later become the President of the "Federacion Ciclista de Gipuzkoa". They iniciated the Irazusta-Adarraga Dynasty and Susana and Juan Luis were the outstanding ones,

**Eugenio Jimenez: Historiador del Baloncesto Guipuzcoano. El Diario Vasco - Lunes 1 de Abril de 2002

      back                           top              






Carmen Adarraga

Captain of the National Basketball Team

click picture

in the open court


Luis Adarraga

Winner of the first  "Basque Country "Tour.