He was also the one that had more aliases. In the sporting Madrid magazines, he was called indistinctly, the “greyhound” and the “hare”; and at home, in Hernani, he and Jose Luis were the “pasteluzes” (long cake in Basque, literally) in reference to their height. Brothers referred to him as “Battitt” and his friends as Juanba.
Like all the Adarragas’, he prepared himself in the “Chocolates Adarraga” factory. Here resided what we could called the “Adarraga Sporting Club”, with Eusebio Arana, alias “Txitxibu” –the production manager and right hand man of Jose Adarraga—being the sporting manager, instigator and keen supporter.
Juanba was the seventh child born in our family, 7 years my senior (I was number 11) and my first recollection of him refer s to the end of the Spanish civil War when Hernani was still “occupied” by Franco's troops. It must have been 1940 the year when Battitt caught a severe pneumonia which almost killed him. (click)
Madrid’s University City. It was Juan Bautista, of all the brothers, with whom I had the closest friendship. The reason for this was that we lived together longer. We separated when he left for Madrid to carry on his studies at the ICAI engineering School. We were together again 5 years later, when I went to Madrid to study at the same school. When I started he was finishing. He helped me a lot with my studies and also helped me overcome my home sickness. This was the first time I left home. We were together in the “Colegio Mayor Cisneros’ and later we shared a room in The Nebrija, where he was sub-director. The sporting fields of the “Ciudad Universitaria” -–the “Colegios Mayores” were part of the excellent Spanish University city and we had only to cross the road to reach the fields. We went many times together to our training sessions. Also we both played handball for the SEU club, he as left inside and me as central defense.
I like to note here something that few people know about. At the garden, at the entrance to the college there is the statue of a runner. Juanba confided to me that he and his rival Petinto, posed as models for it.
Personality. He was intelligent, charming, cheerful and “dominant, a typical leader. He was also artistically orientated like his father and brother Fernando. He could play the piano and the harmonica with taste and he loved to sing Basque songs, especially singing a duet with his sister Margari. Their duets provided a beautiful and entertaining session for those listening.
He was organized, motivated and determined like his father. He also had a terrific capacity for work like his brother Bernardino. These qualities he applied to his studies and to sport. He had a weakness though; he always had to win. And that weakness did not improve with the passage of time, as he demonstrated to me in one of our last climbing excursions together to the Adarra Mountain - we were no longer spring chickens, however, Juanba still wanted to win. (click)
Battitt’s personality developed during his studies at university –where he met people from all regions including the Balearic and Canary Islands and Morocco. Although the social aspect of the ICAI School helped develop his personality, the strict discipline of the Jesuits also assisted in molding him as a person.
As well as his social standing at university, one has to add his popularity as a successful sportsman, meeting people of influence like Joxe Iguarán, from Tolosa, José Antonio Elola Olaso, National Delegate for Physical Education and Sports from San Sebastian and the Catalán, Juan Antonio Samaranch (ex president of the International Olympic Committee ) . To this you have to add the extensive experience acquired during his numerous trips around the world, selling multi-million contracts, and then supervising their constructions as an engineer of the Brown Boveri (Switzerland), meeting presidents of State and other high place personalities.
That is why Juan Bautista developed an extraordinary personality that attracted lots of people.
Cycling Race: Aldapeta. My first recollection of his sporting performances was the ease with the cycling race of Aldapeta, San Sebastian, where he had to compete with the cream of Gipuzcoa’s professional cyclists. The race consisted of four laps to a circuit around San Sebastian, with 4 climbs to the top of Aldapeta. All 4 times he climbed it first and won the race and the trophy “Doña Carmen Polo de Franco”, who expended every summer holiday in their “Ayete” palace in Aldapeta. (See the picture, he was so young!)
Although Juanba, as an extraordinary cyclist, was emulating his father Luis and brother Juan, his father forbid him to take the bicycle to Madrid. He new that the long training hours required to be an elite cyclist, would conflict with his studies. He encouraged him to take up athletics, instead.
Athletics, Just like his elder brother Jose Luis, he could play soccer, handball and rugby well, but it was athletics that made him famous. 800 and 1500 m. races being his favourites distances. However, after 6 months training for 400m hurdles, with the Italian coach Mora, nicknamed "ostaculines", for his method to lengthen you stride, he beat the record of Spain of the distance. According to his son Ricardo he would have been better dedicating his effort to this race but he loved his 800m best and that was it.
I must insist here that he was never beaten in an 800 m race. Nor even his staunch rival doctor Petinto cold ever beat him. He was always triumphant. I remember his comment to me that in his races in the “Ciudad Universitaria”, when he reached the flags (200 m from the end) he would accelerate hard to drop the "peloton" and then would hang on until the finish. This stratagem never failed him.
London Olympiad (1948) Juan Bautista, like his brothers graduated as “Alferez” (second lieutenant) and as a reserve Army officer he required a special permit to attend the Olympic Games.
In the chocolate factory, on the large “accordion” door that separated it from the “fronton” (handball court), the Olympic poster, Juan Bautista’s bio-statistics, performances etc were recorded meticulously, under the supervision of his father, uncle Pepe and “Txitxibu” in his preparation for the Olympics.
A few Athletes and more administrators composed the National team. Among the athletes were Juanba’s eternal rival, Petinto, the javelin thrower and friend of the family Apellaniz and the big Basque shot-putter, Errauzkin. It was, at the Olympics, where Juan Bautista confirmed what he always suspected, that you did not have a chance as a pure amateur athlete to succeed at international level.
An amateur sport-person competes only for pleasure and satisfaction and trains and competes on his own time and normally, after work or studies and at week ends Also, to compete at international level you have to travel and there is no money for it. I remember my brothers asking father for money to buy track shoes because the old ones had broken.
A professional athlete, is paid to compete and “to win at all cost is a must”. Sport is his work and he signs contracts with his sponsors to compete.
And the Olympic Game, being according to the Status of the Olympic charter as designed by Pierre de Coubertin for Amateur sports-people, Juan Bautista fought a futile war in its defense. He made his point when interviewed by Angela Beato, in "Onda Cero"
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had two major problems. One was the difficulty to define the amateur status, with every nation having his own version and two, the scarcity of finance to stage the games. But the president of the IOC, the good Catalan businessman, Juan Antonio Samaranch, had a bright idea. With one stroke of the pen, he removed the amateur condition from the statutes of the Olympic Charter and every one was a winner; the athletes, the IOC, the corporations and the lawyers. “Money makes miracles.
As Juan Bautista defended, the new Games are now “The greatest World Sporting Spectacle” but not the Olympiad!
And now we have created another problem. The doping in pursuit of the new ideal, to win at all costs”. The IOC will find a solution. I have no doubt!
Buckingham Palace. Maria and I went from Townsville, Australia to Wembley, to the British Squash Open Championships, to see our son Austin playing. After the finals, we took a taxi to go to Victoria Station to take the train to the Heathrow airport. We asked the taxi-man to drive us throw Buckingham Palace, to take the opportunity to take a quick look at the palace. We did not see the change of guard but even s, we were happy with the sight.
Back in Madrid, I made the comment to Juan Bautista of our quick look at the palace. He answered, “You have seen it from the outside. During the Olympic Games I went inside. The Queen Mother had invited one athlete representative of each nation to a palace party. I represented Spain, and was introduced to the Queen Mother and mixed with the princesses, the one that is now queen Elisabeth II and Margaret. It was a great reception indeed”.
Juan Bautista, the Engineer. After finishing his studies in Madrid, Juan Bautista went to Switzerland to work as an Engineer in the Power Plant (Gas and steam) of Brown Boveri, now Alstom, and he met two interesting personalities. One was with Herr Richter, the famous German Athletic Olympic coach. After he listened to Juan Bautista's account of his training method, he promised him that with a program he would prepare for him, if he was keen enough, he could reduce his best mark for 800 m. to below 1’50”, which was at the time, close to the world record.
His second meeting was a sentimental one. He met Emma Schmid, a Swiss subject, who was working as secretary for Brown Boveri and married her. From this union three athletes were born, Pilar, Rodrigo and Ricardo, who extended the Adarraga roots from Hernani to Germany with Ricardo and Anke (German subject); to Switzerland with Rodrigo and Judy (British subject) and to France with Pilar and Barnard (German subject). All three are qualified engineers and amateur sport-persons. Ricardo’s team was runner-up in the National University Rugby (Union) Championships and is an international competitor in Speed Ski, holding at present, the National Champion Championship and the Recording this modality. Juan Bautista abandoned the German training program when he suffered a very serious motorcycle accident that badly hurt his face and his ego. Hi lost all his teeth and broke the mandible in several places. All of this due to a stupid distraction of the man in charge of the railway level crossing. After giving him the go ahead, he stupidly brought the barrier down and Juanba crashed his face straight on it. Consequently, he spent eight months with a bandage packed head and replacing his energies with a liquid diet sipped through a straw.
After this, he decided to dedicate all his efforts to his engineering job.
Juan Bautista eventually returned to Spain as the Director of his Swiss company, based first in Barcelona and finally in Madrid. Here he had built a beautiful “head quarters”, named Gure-Txoko (our home, in Basque) in the same urbanization as the RACE Golf Club. And that became the central meeting place, in summer time, for all his family. We have such wonderful times when, we visit Spain and join them.
To finish, my brother Battitt died on 21-09-96, leaving behind his life partner and loving wife Emma, three sons married and 5 grandsons. Interestingly his son Rodrigo succeeded him in his Madrid’s position. “A chip of the old block”
800 metros lisos:
57" 6/10. Campeón de España y
1948 1 min. 55" 8/10 Record Ciudad Universitaria, Madrid
1948 1 min. 55” 7/10 Record. Wembley, Londres
1500 metros lisos 1948 4 min. 06" 4/10. Record de España.
min. 31" 2/10.
Distancia no Olímpica
1949 56” 2/10. Record de España
Golf, Veteranos 1982 Subcampeón de España