Javier Adarraga
Olympic Gold Medal
in " pelota a pala".
París 1924

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"Javier Adarraga"
in Logroño. Rioja


Luis Adarraga
Cicling champion

Javier Adarraga-Gorrochategui


    I 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".

   Like 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 important achievements:

  • 1924, he won the Olympic Gold Medal in “pelota a pala” at the Paris Olympic Games.

  • 1931, he received the Medalla al Merito Deportivo of the Español Federation of pelota.

  • 1939, He founded the Federacion Riojana de Pelota and was president for many years.

  • 1945, 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.

    The 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 in. It was my father’s loving tender care, perseverance and thanks to God that he was brought back to life. 

   Uncle Javier was a devoted cyclist and would accompany his brother Luis during his training sessions, and a follow him during the race.

   Years later, 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.

  Being an 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.

   Not being 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!

  Besides this 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.

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Javier Adarraga's bronze bust .
Main entrance to the Fronton de Logroño named after him


Ramon Adarraga
He joined the national ranks in  400 m steeple and 800 m.


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"Ciudad Deportiva"
of Logroño
"Javier Adarraga"