Fernando and Jose Luis
(family ranking numbers
12 and 6)
In Galarreta. Hernani.
  Oriamendi hill in the back-ground

Carmen Adarraga
Captain of the Spanish Basketball Team


Bernar, Jose Luis, Juanba
Three brothers in Berazubi, Tolosa. Gipuzkoa.
Spanish Championships The "H" stands for C.D.Hernani

Fernando Adarraga-Elizaran


   Fernando, the Benjamin of a family of     12s younger than me. For ovious reasons, we lived a   hierarchical (“pecking order”) and we had the big sister and big brother and they dictated you. As I was No 11, I had to wait for Fernando’s “arrival” to    exercise my constitutional right. But it wasn’t to be. His mother protected him and that was it

Definitively, he was very likeable (and a lady’s man) and like his father and brother Juan Bautista he was musically endowed and in the family festivities they would liven up the celebration, playing the piano or singing basque songs

At the end of dinner, father would “attack” the piano playing the Hernani’s triumphal march, while the rest moved the table to a corner and roll up the carpet, to make room for the “al suelto” dance (basque dance with the partners apart, facing each other) Then, Don Luis would invite Doña Benita and then the rest of the family would join in. It was great!

The “Mateos”, our relatives from the floor under, as far as I know, never complained.

Fernando had a lot of pride and courage. I remember the day when at the end of the school day, 6:00 pm, we went to pick up our bikes – we used to go to “Sagrado Corazon” school (10 Km away) on bicycle (to save the transport fee) -- something happened that I didn’t like and I got angry at him. In revenge, I asked him to go home on his own. I did not want to ride with him.

We left Sanchez Toca towards Amara, Anoeta and Loyola, along the Urumea river road. It wasn’t long before I saw him trying to shorten the gap between us. It was going to get dark very soon and he didn’t like to ride alone. I tried a bit harder but he kept coming. Before soon he was right by my wheel. 

When we were arriving home, he was still glued to me. My last hope was the “Cinco Enea” uphill. From there you drive into the “calle Mayor”(street) the Canton to the right, (a narrow street) leaving Pedro Zugasti’s bicycle shop, the Cuesta’s business, the bleach factory and the fodder store on the left hand side and the Laburu’s blacksmith factory on the right.; and finally you reach our chocolate factory, the end. Well, Fernando was still stuck to my wheel. Shame on me. Good on him!

There was another interesting chase, but this time on motorbike and Fernando was the leader this time. He was returning from San Sebastian when the traffic police spotted a young kid driving a motorbike and having decided to stop him, a chase ensued. The opposition was from the motorized traffic police, and was trying to catch him. As soon as Fernando reached the factory he rushed straight up to his father’s office. Very soon after, the police arrived. He new who he was chasing. There were not many bikes in town and the DKW 250 cc Fernando was driving was purchase from a traffic police auction. The policeman was  driving a bike of the same make but of 500 cc. When he met my father, he explained that he recognized the motorist, and pointing to Fernando, he thought he was under age to ride a motorbike – you had to be 15 before you could get a license and he was only 14.

After father obtained from Fernando the promise not to drive the motorbike, “on the road”, until he had the license, the policeman was satisfied and that was the end of that drama. Yes, certainly, he kept his word, the word to his father.

When Fernando left, the motorist let my father know that the kid could obviously handle the motorcycle very well despite he being so young.

Fernando was very intelligent (and a ladies man; my wife, then my fiancée, can testify to it) and very special, therefore when he finished the “Bachiller” and had to decide which university course to pursue, he decided, despite his father and brothers encouraging him to study a science course, like the others, to study Law. He reasoned that studying Law was easier and he would have more time to purse his many other intellectual activities. And thus he headed to Madrid to join the other brothers. And when confronted with the compulsory Military Service for University graduates, he joined the Air-Force and not the Army..

We all of us promised our mother to choose anything but Air-Force for our military service. Number two brother, Juanito, was flying his machine during the Spanish civil war when his plane was downed and he lost his life. He was 20 years old. She did not recover from this accident but Fernando being her special son got her permission to join the Air-Force. Again, all of us brothers serve in Infantry Artillery in army camps while he was more comfortable in Sidi Ifni.

 I’ll translate here an excerpt from an article “The Adarraga’s Sportive Dynasty” by Luis Pastor. Kirolak No., 12, where Fernando expresses well the feeling of the Adarragas towards sport:

“The real champion, the authentic sportsman, grows from the Sunday family excursions, from the sportive and cultural environment that exists in societies like the Basque and Catalan and not from living in a residence or laboratory. One day they will forget again the myths, that a few times there are outstanding human beings like those they pretend exists. We must come back to getting together with our mates after work to play “pelota” (Basque handball) in the public” fronton” of our town.”

“Being the youngest of the family it was assumed that I was the weakest, and my father forced me to go and return from Hernani to San Sebastian by pushbike, every day, while studying. I remember my first championship when I was 17 years old, in Anoeta. The precious day I had done more than 100 kilometers on the bike and had to jump with my hands sore. I receive a trophy and my father said to me: << it happened to you the worst that can happen to a sportsman, to win without having taken it seriously>>”

As it was customary in the family, Fernando practiced “every” sport: mountaineering was very popular as the whole family participated and it was fun. Cycling? It was said in town that the Adarragas were born riding a bike. By three years of age we could keep our balance on two wheeler and by four we could ride the adult bike but with our legs under the frame. On our trips to school, to San Sebastian (40 km daily as we came home for lunch) we did the equivalent of about two trips around the world. Juanito, Juan Bautista and Fernando were the best cyclist of the family, after their father.

Pelota (Basque handball) was another very popular practice, to the extent that our father and Tio Pepe built a court using one of the chocolate factory walls as the left-hand side-wall of the “fronton”

In summer, swimming, in the Urumea river, at Elorrabi, was also very popular. Bernardino Elizaran, our maternal grandfather lent us chauffeur, and truck to, at the end of the day’s work, transport us to the river. Some would cycle or run as it was only at 3 km. this was necessary as we were a great mob ourselves, enlarged with our cousins the Erice-Adarraga and others, on holidays in Hernani. I’m referring to those times when swimming in the river wasn’t that popular. The same as our trips on bicycle to Orio’s beach (at 22 Km) Rare if there were more than half a dozen other families with us. Those were the days!

Don Luis forbade us to practice physical contact sport. He reasoned that we were too hot blooded for them. And knowing our enthusiasm for the bicycle he dis-encouraged us from cycling competition, as he knew how many hours the training took and he wanted us to acquire a University degree. He thought athletics should be seen as our relaxation sport.  When we left the Basque country to study in (Madrid Bernar Juan Bautista, Fernando and myself) and Valladolid (Jose Luis) we practiced athletics and a few others like, Olympic handball, rugby, soccer, cross country etc. Athletics became very popular. We lived on the University Colleges who were opposite the athletic fields. I was easy to move across and run and jump.

Fernando practiced high jump and pole-vaulting mainly and eventually settled for this last one where he excelled. He became:

Champion and Recordman pole-vaulting of Spain several times

Gold Medal in Beirut representing Spain in the “Mediterranean Games (1969) and

Silver Medal in the “Juegos Ibero-Americanos in Chile (1960).

He also won the Gold cup in the International pole-vaulting Competition in Monaco, He said he got the trophy from Grace Kelly hands. He was very impressed.

Olympic Games, Roma (1960) He was selected to represent Spain in the Roma Olympic Games. He was the third brother after Juan Bautista and Bernardino Honor that he painfully had to renege because of injury. While training hard, and in full flight, his pole broke, he crashed to the ground and hurt his back badly. He and we his family suffered a great pain for this mishap.

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Fernando Adarraga

Pasajes (Gipuzcoa)
National Recordman pole-vaulting. silver Medal "Juegos Ibero-Americanos "Chile 1960

Mother Benita and his darling


Fernando Adarraga
National Champion and Recordman pole-vaulting