Olympic Gold Medal
pelota a pala".
in Logroño. Rioja
was fortunate to obtain a copy of his diary from my brother
Juan Bautista. It covers his sporting life from 1908 (he was 18 years old)
to 1925, including the Olympic Games in Paris (1924) where he won a gold
medal in Pelota a “pala” (a special heavy bat). It gives
you an insight into
not only his and of his brothers holistic attitude to sports, at the
time. It is most interesting.
The diary is written in his peculiar handwriting, small, neat, homogeneous
and pretty. Should I see a demand for it, I’m prepared to make the effort
of translating all 17 pages into English with "gusto".
brother Luis, he was a Founding Member of the Club Deportivo Fortuna. He
played like all his brothers all sports available at the time, cycling,
mountaineering, pelota; he even would have a go at bullfighting in the
town’s patron saint festivities.
Here are his most
he won the
Olympic Gold Medal in “pelota a pala” at the Paris
he received the “Medalla al Merito Deportivo” of the Español
Federation of pelota.
He founded the “Federacion Riojana de Pelota” and was
president for many years.
he received the homage of the “Federacion Española de Pelota”
and received the Gold Medal of the C.D. Fortuna.
1958, “Medalla al Merito Deportivo”
del Excelentísimo Ayuntamiento de Logroño.
The famous Frontón (pelota court) of Logroño was named after him and so
was the Sports City built afterward.
He encouraged and helped building “frontones” (pelota courts) in the
Logroño’s villas. As you approach the city from Burgos road, it calls your attention
these colorful frontones.
Adarraga brothers used to cycle every day to Pamplona during San Fermin
Festivities (a 90 km rides with one port, “Azpiroz”, to see the running of
the bulls. Something popularized by Ernest Hemingway. They would run after
the bull and in the bullring they will do “el salto a la garrocha” (a sort
of pole-vaulting over the bull. In one occasion, Javier did not get enough
impulse and when up there, all he could do was slip down the garrocha,
straight into the bull’s horns. He receives a wound of the whole length of
the thigh. No tetanus injection, nor sulphonamides, nor penicillin
were discovered as yet. He become so sick that the doctor thru the towel
It was my father’s loving tender care, perseverance and thanks to God that he was brought back to life.
Javier was a devoted cyclist and would accompany his brother Luis during
his training sessions, and a follow him during the race.
with his son ("and good friend") Javier Mari, also an Engineer, as his
"chauffeur", he would travel to
where a cycling race was in progress. They would follow it for a while and
at a particularly selected spot, he will ask his son to stop the car, he
would unload his modified bike from the rack, champ on it and go with the
cyclists, some times up to the end.
Engineer and a cyclist, Javier, had his own ideas about bicycle efficiency.
According to one of them, the round plate had two "dead" spaces when your
pedals are in the maximum up and down positions. He theorized that if the
plate were elliptic (he called it "plato ovalado") it would eliminate
the dead spots and thus improve effort efficiency.
shy he put action his words and built an elliptic plate (his famous
"plato ovalado"). He stuck it to the round one to be able to test it. A
double plate is a standard feature of modern bicycles. Not then!
innovation, his special bicycle was endowed with a double cock gears changes,
namely the standard one and an axle's one. It gave him a tremendous
range of gears. Every time he came to Hernani he had a big audience
of curious cyclist to watch his unusual bike
He was employed as an engineer
in a wine press making factory, “Marrodan y Rezola”, married the
boss’ daughter Matilde Rezola and settled for good in Logroño where the
Adarraga is a household name.
Matilde Adarraga Rezola. She married
Dr. Rafael Montoya
Sáenz She loves sky and car rasing.
She won numerous races which his trophies collection
testify.In 1972 she was
elected "the Best Sport-person of La Rioja". Congratulations!
They raised children: Rafael (Rafa) engineer. Javier,
traumatologist doctor and Matilde (Duca) architect.
bronze bust .
entrance to the Fronton de Logroño named after him
He joined the national ranks in
400 m steeple and 800 m.