Archive for the 'Sport' Category
San Silvestre Golden Mile Is A New Year Honour

It was not about the few pounds that had appeared in December, or pre empting the New Years resolutions to get fit. The 3rd Arona San Silvestre Golden Mile run was a fun gathering for all ages, on the edge of Playa de Las Americas and Los Cristianos in Tenerife,with 19 categories of races from short dashes for young children of 4 and 5 upwards, to the full 5 km route down to the sea, along the front, and back along The Golden Mile. It’s fame is growing, and the afternoon farewell to 2018 had an international feel, with the two overall winners coming from Germany.

Jannik Arbogast headed the field with a time of 15.28.39 and Johanna Flacke was the leading lady in 18.26.57. They were in a party of five friends from Karlsruhe , near the southern border of Germany, members of the local athletics club and also keen cyclists with Bikronos. The run was the perfect topping for their two week training trip to Tenerife. In between them, second placed Ayoze Perez Tejera (no 3), representing Trivalle Guimar Restaurante, clocked 15.35.09, and third overall was Miguel Angel Vaquero Agama (no 2) for the Tenerife Caja Canarias team in 15.41.51. Wigs and multi coloured skirts were a good clue to distracted shoppers and holiday makers that it wasn’t all about winning.

Running with a group of friends was a popular idea, the Charco del Pino Farmacia werea great advert for good health, in fact they were in the pink. Sport and Beers might not be recommended by some doctors but their team still had a healthy orange glow at the end of the race. Evolution with their Santa suited under his red robes, poured themselves some cold Dorada’s at the end of their team effort. Trust the Glasgow ladies to find the Dorada, but you do have to replenish your liquids. Pauline Douglas, a fitness instructor, and Valarie Davidson were over on a weeks holiday, saw an advert for the race, and signed up.


There was a good sprinkling of British in the run, 60 year old Phllip Seddon is a keen runner with Darwen Dashers in Lancashire. As well as being a regular in the London Marathon, he had recently taken part in the Cyprus Marathon, and his Tenerife holiday was boosted when he saw an advert for the San Silvestre. Wigan now has a reputation as the running capital of the UK, after an amazing haul by five family friends. Sami and Zak Manir-Jolley took the first places in their junior categories, Lynn Manir-Jolley got second in hers, a feat equalled by 16 year old Ben Woods, Mo Manir-Jolley added a third in his own group. Lynn and Mo run for Wigan Phoenix, and the other three are members of Wigan Harriers. Watch out for Ben Woods, he is also an accomplished footballer who plays for the Academy team of Burnley FC.


It took a mammoth effort by Arona Council and their team of organisers to make the afternoon run so smoothly with 800 runners taking part. The entrance fee was a mere five or ten euros depending on how early you signed up, and that included a commemorative vest, medal, and extra awards for the top three in each category. There was also plenty of free water, bananas, and even cake to replace the runners energy after their exertions. Look out for the 31st December 2019 race at www.gesportcanarias.com

Ding Dong Merrily On High Seas For Atlantic Rowing Challenge

Bloated with food and drink, maybe snoring a little in front of HRH on the telly. Suddenly a jolt and a slap of salty water and they’re back in the real world, facing 40 foot waves, aching muscles, and curious creatures of the deep. That’s the festive scenario for the 28 crews in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, the rowing race that set out from La Gomera on 12th December, bound for Antigua, 3,000 miles away. I had the pleasure of meeting the crews in the marina in San Sebastian, a few days before they got into their cramped 8 metre long, 2 metre wide boats. What an incredible collection of people, here’s a quick look at some of their Christmas plans and their reasons for being so far away from the rustle of brightly coloured wrapping paper.

The festive season will still be jolly for the four female crew members of Astro To Atlantic from Devon. Helen Symons has a Boxing Day birthday to look forward to, and Louise Read her 50th birthday on New Years Eve. Sharing a passion to play hockey for Kingsbridge & Salcombe, the ladies are reaching high for the Devon Air Ambulance Trust after seeing the good work they do. Two on, two off rowing shifts will allow some sleeping time in the cabins as they set a cracking pace with the four mens record of 37 days as a guideline. Their special treats will be revealed from a stash of Santa snack bags, two of the crew admit to problems with sea sickness but hopefully that will be conquered in the early days.

Kelda Wood (above) from Shropshire has more room as a solo rower in Row To Raise but will have to be strong to cope with isolation and sleep deprivation. Catching sleep as the boat drifts is not a recipe for sweet dreams, and the sudden siren warning of near obstacles will lurk in the back of her tired mind. Kelda is a survivor, a love of horse riding turned sour when a heavy bundle of hay fell on her and nearly robbed her of one leg. That was in 2002, since then Kelda has recovered well and despite having a fused ankle she has hit life full on, including climbing the 6,900 metre Aconcagua mountain in Africa. Helping others to overcome physical and mental setbacks through her charity Climbing Out is her driving force, and her “crew mates” will help to make Christmas Day special. M.P the penguin is a gift from her niece, and Hardy will remind her of her own full size dogs. An inflatable Santa, and a boisterous sing song will confuse the seagulls but keep her mind positive.

Tim Crockett (above) moved from his native Hereford to Atlanta to get married 13 years ago but was lured home to train in his UK built boat, Tame The Kraken. The former marine and SBS veteran admits to having that sinking feeling when on a boating trip with the Hereford Rugby Colts as a youngster. Chopping the days at sea into six blocks of four hours, Tim will judge his sleep breaks according to the call of his body, and trust in a para anchor, a device that operates 20 feet below the sea´s surface to stop drifting. Combat Stress and Support Our Marines will benefit from his fund raising drive. Tim has a Christmas cake stashed away, but he will have to ration himself so it can deliver another lift for his New Years day birthday.

Not a crumb will be wasted from the rowing crews morale boosting morsels, and that´s music to the ears of the two woman crew of Whale Of A Time. Jemma Rix from Colchester works in the food industry and is passionate about cutting down food waste. “Most of our 500 dehydrated meals on board have come from what is often discarded as surplus, with good management and care so much food can have a longer use.” That expertise has given the ladies a real taste of yuletide tradition, they have dehydrated turkey to brighten their big day.
Lauren Woodwiss from Birmingham met Jemma at Reading University an had some running experience before the friends decided to enter the Challenge. They are going to try to mix rowing shifts to break the monotony and keep as fresh as possible. Their inspirational quote on the top of one cabin hatch, comes from the film Bridesmaids, but their charities are their biggest driving force. “We have chosen Cancer UK, and The Mintridge Foundation – they help children with mental and physical problems.”

Team Tyne Innovation are a mixed foursome of three men and one woman, and were late in completing their line up after a series of setbacks. Tyneside locals Phil Kite and Kate Hughes were joined in April 2018 by Steve Sidaway, and Allan Huntly from Stirling. Phil is confident that they have the right pieces in their jigsaw. “Fate has dealt us a good hand, we are going to enjoy the challenge and trust and understand our instincts along the way.” They have had help from sports psychologists and will have a crack at the mixed four record of 56 days.
They are using the trip to showcase a range of north east talent, the boats paintwork is from Gateshead, and the design is from Newcastle, it certainly catches the eye. Their charity is Daft As A Brush, offering practical support for cancer patients. Light relief from relentless rowing will come in the form of Secret Santa surprises including hats, false beards, and even a cigar or two.

Although the record finish for the Atlantic route stands at 29 days and 14 hours for a solo rower, it´s more of an endurance test than a race for most crews. The last finishers after a few are inevitably forced to cut the journey short, will take up to three months and have a lot of sleep deprivation, extreme weather, mental anguish, and disorientation to deal with. Even the build up of raising funds for boats and equipment before chasing donations to their charities, and training, are punishing but the journey will dish out new emotional highs and lows on a daily basis. The drama started early for Yorkshire team Men Of Oar, they found a small split on the join of the hull and had to return to the marina after just a few minutes, thankfully they repaired and regrouped and went out a day later.

You can track the race here, and donate to the above mentioned causes at the links on their boat names. They are all heroes.

Scottish Golfers Flag Up Cancer Contribution

They love their golf and they love helping others. A keen field of 50 locally based golfers took on the challenging and visually pleasing Amarilla Golf Course for their annual Scottish Tenerife Open competition on 6th and 7th November. They doubled up on the previous year with a further 8,000 euros for FACT – Fighting Against Cancer Tenerife.

Starting each day just after 10 am with a shotgun start, they started at different holes to converge on the clubhouse for a well deserved cool off. After the score cards had all been tallied up, the winner was Alex McMullan, followed by Peter Hipkiss, with Mark Ross picking up third place, and Dean Adams clinching fourth position.
It wasn´t just down to the on green action. The money started rolling in with a Ladies Button competiton on the Monday at Bad Bobs Bar, netting 736 euros. On the Wednesday night, the presentations were made at The Crystal Palace on The Patch in Playa de Las Americas. Events on the night, and also at The Star Bar in San Eugenio swelled the funds to the new record return.

There were plenty of tales of shots just missed and luck deserting players on their crucial putts. There´s already a hunger to improve on personal performances next year, and a desire to push the fund raising total even higher. The cause is special to all the players and they can´t wait to take up the challenge again next year.

Arona Pool Laps On Many Shores

Even the sandy beaches of Los Cristianos have a rival when it comes to attracting competitive swimmers to the Tenerife municipality of Arona. There’s hardly a week goes by when an international swimming club doesn’t immerse itself in the eight lane, 50 metre Olympic sized pool at the Complejo Deportivo Jesus Dominguez Grillo in Avenida Chayofita. I caught up with some old friends from the Aards, and Banbridge Swimming Clubs from Northern Ireland, and found many newer, and older converts to the outdoor sports centre.

Team managers Michael Angus, and Fiona Cleland were two of the four coaches with a party of 30 male and female swimmers aged between 13 and 18 years old. “It’s half term so a good chance to get them together for some intensive warm weather training” explained Michael, a long term holiday visitor to Los Cristianos as well as an annual coaching swallow. “We have 230 swimmers just at Aards club, we have long term links with Banbridge and many of the swimmers know each other so there´s a good competitive but friendly edge to training.”

Fiona outlined the schedule for the week long visit. “We have two pool sessions a day, one early morning after a light breakfast, and one late afternoon. Fitness and technique are worked on but we like to have a different focus each session. Paradise Park hotel is our base, a short walk up and down the hill each work out, which helps to limber everyone up. It´s a comfortable base for us and they look after us well.” It isn´t just work, the swimmers had a few beach fun excercise sessions, and visited Siam Park water kingdom to enjoy some adventure rides. There are always targets to aim for as Michael outlined. “Next up are the Ulster short course, and Irish short course championships, the girls have the Ladies Junior championships ahead, and there around four or five swimmers who have realistic hopes of making the 2020 Tokyo Olympic squads.” It might seem a logistical nightmare to bring a large party of youngsters to Tenerife but Michael isn´t phased. “We fly in and out of Belfast International airport, we have a block of seats together, and everyone looks after their own kit.” Pointing to the distinctive orange, and lime green kit bags Michael chuckles. “The colour scheme makes it easier to pick out everyone as we spread through the airports.”

On the training camps, there are often other groups using some of the other lanes so they soon make new friends. Fiona pointed out a Swedish mother and her daughter who was over to sharpen up her own competitive skills. “We got chatting and invited her to join in our routines, its all good practice for mixing in international events.” There was a strong Northern Ireland influence as a separate Ulster Schools party (in blue) were also over with a break that overlapped the Aards and Banbridge schedule. They had an even longer history of Tenerife swimming as teacher Heather Henderson explained. “Ulster Schools used to pop over to train in Puerto de la Cruz 22 years ago, before moving down south a little later. We are slightly different to the other party, we have 25 swimmers, they have to qualify for the trip through school galas. During the week here we will put in 13 sessions of two hours each as we prepare for the All Ulster championships which include three areas in the south of Ireland as well. Our long term base has always ben the Bitacora Hotel on the edge of Playa de Las Americas, they always make us welcome and it’s a short walk from the pool.”


I have visited several other UK swimming clubs in Los Cristianos over the years, such as Southport, Camden, and Swansea, they all impressed with their dedication, good humour, and devotion to their chosen sport. Arona makes a big commitment to youth sport in the municipality, through football, athletics, and swimming and welcomes overseas parties to hire the facilities and enjoy the delightful weather. Commercial use of facilities at off peak times helps to balance the books, and it´s a pretty impressive way to show off the charms of Tenerife. A major refurb is on the way for the swimming complex but in the meantime it is of course open to the public, check out their Facebook page. You might not become a future medal winner but if it makes you as healthy and happy as the dedicated overseas visitors, that´s a golden reward in itself.

Women Jumping For Joy Since 1893

From Northampton to Tenerife may seem a strange connection, but the Northampton in question is the one in Massachussets, USA, and the journey is the growth of womens basketball from its birth in 1893. Arriving in Tenerife, the 2018 Womens Basketball World Cup will showcase the strides the womens game has made, as well as bringing international media interest to Santa Cruz and La Laguna where the elite 16 countries will battle for the trophy between September 22nd and 30th.

To back up the tournament, a free exhibition, 1893 From Northampton To Tenerife, is taking place at the Casa de Capitanes in La Laguna. I popped in to stroll around the display cases of memorabilia from those early days of the sport. James Naismish had only invented the sport two years earlier in Springfield, Massachussets, using peach baskets and a very heavy looking ball, so the ladies were quick to recognise the attractions of the game. A Lithuanian immigrant, Senda Berenson adapted the basic rules, and the first womens game tipped off between two teams at Smith College in Northampton.

All this was news to me, and well presented in the roomy hall with plenty of exhibits supplied by the Spanish Basketball Federation. Spain has taken the sport to its hearts, the first womens international in 1963 setting the nation on its way to a bronze medal at the 2014 World Championships in Estambul, Turkey, and onto the gold medal at the 2017 European Championships in Prague. There was a nice selection of shirts, medals, programmes and other souvenirs in the exhibition.

La Laguna is a good setting for the display, basketball is big in the town, the mens team Iberostar Tenerife play at the Pabellon Santiago Martin, known locally as the hamburger, and compete in Spain´s top league. The CD Canarias club , founded in 1939, has youth teams at all ages, and of course womens teams, the Iberostar games attract near 4,000 crowds with families making up a big part of the attendance. The exhibition is part social history as well as a celebration of sport for all. It´s open daily until 5 pm, a short hop from the tram terminus and next to the Tourist Information office, entry is free and the information is in Spanish and English, it will run until the end of the World Cup.

 

 

Wheels On Fire In European Wheelchair Basketball Championships

Speed, power, and skill are ingredients that always draw me to sport so I didn´t need much persuading to add wheelchair basketball to take my first look at live wheelchair basketball. Adeje pulled off a bit of a coup in attracting the European Wheelchair Basketball Championships and despite a lack of fanfare and publicity, it made a big impression with crunching charges, brave interventions, and action that flowed from end to end of the court.

A near empty Las Torres sports hall greeted me on my visit to the third days action. Cleaners were working their way through the bleacher seats with few obstructions to their brooms. Down at courtside the mens sides of Great Britain and Israel were warming up, and blimey it was warm in the hall as sun beat down through the glass roof panels. A bit of breeze wafted in through the open side doors but not a lot, full marks for the 12 man squads to set a frantic pace as I tried to pick up the finer points of the sport.GB were holders and favourites for the tournament but Israel frustrated them and after the second of the four quarters the red reigning champions were just 34-28 ahead.GB improved steadily for a 86-43 win full of spills, these guys just flip back up in their chairs with no moaning, and lethal finishing.


Holland ladies took on Turkey in the next game and by now the hall was like a green house but it was Turkey who wilted as it became an orange house. There´s a lot for the coaching team and support staff to do from changing the odd wheel, to keeping the water and ice flowing, and serving up liberal supplies of energy drinks. The Dutch were the better organised by far, their coaching was slick and brought quick responses as they pulled away for a 81-17 win. Towards the end, other teams arrived via the lower open entrances, from the other group games at the other hall. The camaraderie between all the countries players was impressive, at least if the hall was lacking people, there were several tv stations relaying coverage across Europe, particulary to Germany and Holland.

Fast forward to the Saturday of the grand finals and the hall was transformed, flags, banners, and painted faces filled the crowd. The colours of Holland and Germany dominated the womens final, and one both teams had looked up to the official flags as theie anthems were played, they were off at a cracking pace. They were well matched and at the half way mark it was 23-23, but Holland grew in confidence and built an 11 point lead going into the final quarter. It was too much for Germany, they edged the quarter 14-15 but lost the match, the tears of the winners and the dignity of the losers drew a standing ovation from the crowd for a great contest.
A change of flags in the bleacher seats gave me time to adjourn to fresh air for a beer and a snack at a pizza outlet up the road. Several of the tournament match officials and judges from a range of European countries were also taking a breather and speaking glowingly of the quality of the event and the venues.

I got back just in time for Great Britain and Turkey´s mens teams to line up for their introductions. Thse two were old rivals from many tournaments, especially GB´s win over Turkey two years ago in Worcester at the Euros. GB didn´t quite show the edge of their Israel victory and found themselves chasing the game at 24-36 behind at the half way stage. Turkey were physically stronger and punished GB for their mistakes,thanks to a late scramble GB were able to claw the deficit back to just a nine point gap. Both sides supporters belted out encouragement as the final quarter brought plenty more twists and turns with both sides missing vital shots. The best it got for the Brits was a three point deficit as they entered the last 60 seconds, Turkey pushed forward and with a mix of good defending and quick breaks made it across the line with a 69-76 victory.


The teams will continue their rivalry in Hamburg 2018 for the World Championships, on this night in Adeje, Turkey were just the better side but the spirit and commitment of the game and the tournament made a big impression on all the crowds that increased as the games progressed. Everyone that took part can be proud of their contribution to another wonderful Tenerife based event.

Arona Fighters Stage A Knock Out Night

The sad sight of David Haye shambling around the ring like a drunk did little for the public image of boxing but my first taste of live action showed me me why it´s called the noble art. Los Cristianos sports hall hosted nine amateur (three rounds) and two professional fights (six rounds) filled with skill, power, determination, and a refreshing respect for the sport and oppoments.

 


A dedicated team of referees, scorers, time keepers, and medical staff made sure it all clicked along professionally and with safety the over riding concern. That didn´t detract from the intensity of the contests, the gloves were pounding, the muscles pumping, and the tactics subtle and well drilled. First up was Pablo Luis, he survived an early tumble to grind down Joel over the three rounds and take victory. The second match up saw Raul narrowly defeat Adrian of the home club Real Boxing. Each winner got a trophy, and the runner up got a medal, as well as plenty of appreciative applause from the crowd up in the bleecher seats.

The next contest didn´t get beyond the first round, Chiky launched straight into his opponent, Sandro and with a fierce combination of punches put him down. Sandro was clearly dazed but got plenty of time and medical attention to ensure he could collect his medal, a consoling hug from Chiky, and then leave the ring. Head protectors were worn in the next fight as both fighters were under 18, Kilian, a late substitute, saw off Diego Medina after a close contest.


One of the closest and hardest fought bouts brought together home favourite Mihail of Real Boxing, and Alberto Arley. These two really slugged it out and either would have been a worthy winner. After the scoring forms were collected, Mihail just shaded it. The big tv fights aren´t the only ones to enjoy a touch of glamour, the girls from Chocolat paraded the round number cards in the rests and looked every bit as good as their Las Vegas contemporaries.

Back to the action. Saul and Cotu gave their all before Saul got the nod to lift his trophy after a little wobble from Cotu. Everyone loves a showman, Jerday played to the crowd when he entered the ring for the next fight. He showed he was made of stern stuff, surviving a small cut above the eye to clinch the contest. Womens boxing has had to battle hard to get equal billing, every boxing event poster I´ve seen around Tenerife seems to include at least one female bout, Melissa Tudge and Patri showed that they could match the men with their skill and all action style. It was a very even bout with Patri ending up the winner.

The two big professional fights of the night featured fighters in the heavier weight brackets and the contests were very different. First on was Jacobo (Caco) Barreto from Anaza against Siliviu Costea from Romania. It was a short contest as Caco floored Siliviu in the first round with a thunderous punch. The last clash went the six round distance as Adasat (Toro) Rojas took on a late replacement, Ullrich of Cameroon. Ulrich was a bit slower than Adasat but he was tough and solid and took everything that was thrown at him. Adasat wasn´t sure what to make of him at first and had to use all his ring craft to alternate tiring body punches with head shots that he hoped could bring a knockout. At the finish they both knew they had been pushed all the way but Adasat clinched it thanks to his higher work rate and more adventurous approach. Fight nights are pretty frequent in Tenerife and always great value, this latest was 15 euros on the door and here is the gallery of photos.

Two Sports In One Perfect Tenerife Day

I´d like to boast about my sporting prowess, all the medals I have won and records I have broken – only one problem, it´s just not true. I was the wimpy kid at school who always got picked last, even the smokers did better than me at cross country. Despite that, I love watching sport and with Canarian Weekly giving me free reign to cover as many different varieties as possible, I´m like Olly Reed in a brewery.


Tenerife is a magnet for professional sports teams and individuals, especially when the UK winter sinks its teeth into any bare flesh displayed in the name of competition. Arriving at T3 (Tenerife Top Training) in La Caleta to cover Hull Kingston Rovers training camp I was overjoyed to find that Warrington Wolves still had a day left of their 10 day trip and had arranged a training game against Hull KR. I had to brush up on my flimsy rugby league knowledge, the only live UK I had seen was at Wigan Warriors on a very boozy lads holiday up north – when I was still a lad.


Both squads and management were very helpful and the T3 complex is always a joy to visit, the two swimming pools always make me wish I´d brought my budgie smugglers. Warrington finished last years Superleague in second place while Hull KR (white corner on shirt)  were relegated to the Championship. There were a few clues to who was the higher placed club, Warrington (crimson red shirts)  had a bigger staff including two female masseurs who were treating players at two tables at pitchside, part of that could have been down to their stay being twice as long.


The game was played over two 20 minute halfs and was decided on tries, Warrington ran out 3-1 winners, but for both teams it was more about getting ready for the new season. Both squads had some powerful looking players, if they say it´s Tuesday then it´s Tuesday. Warrington coach Tony Smith (above with hat) was referee and laid down the guidelines before they started, basically competitive without getting too carried away -injuries were not part of either coaches plans for the visit. This was very much a working holiday, both coaches talked of the odd team meal out rather than the usual rush to Las Americas that most football teams seem to favour. It was a nice insight for me to see how rugby league teams run and left me with great admiration for both clubs.


The evening brought a change of sport and venue as I headed to CD Marino´s ground in Playa de Las Americas to see my beloved CD Tenerife take on a southern select side made up of players from the Tercera Division and Preferente League. It was a charity fundraiser for the people of Venezuela, there have always been close ties and movement of people between Venezuela and the Canary Islands. I expected a bumper crowd as it has been a few years since CD Tenerife played in the southern tourist zone but it was probably around 500 people. Some of my Armada Sur friends met up at The Whisky Jar but I was down at pitchside getting ready to prowl the touchline with my camera. The team sheet gave a clue as to what was to come, the Tenerife list had 33 players and even then there were others with unlisted numbers.


The big draw was to weigh up Tete´s new loan signing from Las Palmas, Tyronne (no 22) , from the start it was clear he wasn´t rusty from not getting regular games witht he Pios. Playing up front he looked strong and fast and created several chances for his new team mates. Choco Lozano was sharp and cracked in a stoater of a shot into the top corner of the goal after36 minutes. Half time brought wholesale changes, Angel Galvan got a chance in goal but had little to do, Oscar Gonzalez and Giovanni from the B team caught the eye, and Cristo Gonzalez was trusted with the captains arm band. With Tyronne going off after 59 minutes some of the fizz went out of the game but the young guns were keen to stake a claim. Giovanni showed his skills to set up Oscar for a 65th minute second goal, and when Giovanni had a one on one with the select goalie he slipped the ball sweetly past him for a 79th minute, game clinching third goal.


The charity organisers were well supplied with a seemingly endless list of donated raffle prizes, and non perishable food was also donated, near the stadium exit there was a tower of boxes full of long lasting food and supplies to ship out. All in all it was a mighty fine day, there was onmly one way to cap it off, a few Dorada´s at The Victory bar and I was able to wobble up the hill with a satisfied smirk on my face.

Adeje Hails The Slam Dunk Derby

Thundering down the court, plundering the baskets, and closing down shooting angles for their opposition, Iberostar Tenerife (black vests) and Herbalife Gran Canaria (yellow) brought a full bloodied pre season basketball friendly to Adeje. Top class basketball in the Canary Islands? Well of course there is, I last went to see Iberostar Tenerife in January 2013 at their La Laguna stadium, they play in Spain’s elite Liga Endesa along with close rivals Herbalife Gran Canaria. Adeje Ayuntamiento promotes its own youth programme and provided the venue in the form of the Complejo Deportivo Las Torres near the heart of Adeje town.

My knowledge of the finer points of basketball could be written on the back of a postage stamp, and anyway they have refined the rules a bit in recent years to sharpen the pace. This was the opening action for both teams, both attract regular 3,000 plus home crowds and are in the European Champions League this coming season. Five new faces graced each roster, the only two familiar Tenerife names from my last match were Nico Richotti from Italy and Mamdou Niang, a Senegal born youngster previously known as Petit Niang, although at 2.10 metres he was one of the tallest on the court.

The intensity was clear from the start of the first 10 minute quarter (the clock stops with all breaks in play) most of the players may have come from outside the Canaries but the importance of bragging rights between the two islands had certainly been taken on board by all concerned. Tenerife raced into a 19-15 lead at the first break, Nico Richotti was buzzing and involved in all the best moves. Gran Canaria came back strongly to take the second quarter 13-26 for a 32-41 half time lead. The changeover of players from the benches was at a furious rate, home coach Txus Vidorreta had recently signed a new contract for Tenerife but was finding it hard to stem the turning tide. Lithuanian signing Marius Grigonis was the pick of the home pack with some clinical shooting, Canadian Aaron Doornekamp, another new arrival wasn’t far behind but missed some crucial penalty shots.

Tenerife drifted in the third quarter with Gran Canaria’s 10-17 superiority stretching the overall lead to 42-58. The final quarter saw a minor fight back from Tenerife by 21-19 but it wasn’t enough to claw their way back into the game and it ended up 63-77. For both teams it was more about loosening up for the new season, the five new additions to the home squad will have learnt a lot about the standard of the Spanish league and the style of play their coaches favour. Ticket pricing was spot on at five euros in the stands or 10 euros for a court side seat, it had the desired effect of packing the hall out with 1,500 people. There was a fair sprinkling of Tenerife vests to show that some regulars had traveled down the motorway but the atmosphere was more subdued than in La Laguna where drums and chanting help to fire up the players. If you want to see a league game check out the clubs website, hopefully Adeje will try to stage an annual game in the south, there’s definately a demand.

 

 

Worlds Athletes Push The Limits At The Arona Combined Events

They came from as far away as New Zealand, Uzbekistan, and Finland, such is the pulling power of the Arona Combined Events meeting, now in its sixth year and with a growing reputation. Spain provided the majority of the competitors but it was pleasing to see several Canarian flags on running vests. Great Britain had 12 athletes registered and Ireland had their lone entry with Shannon Sheely. It was all set for two days of fiercely competitive decathlon and heptathlon, and they delivered in all departments.

The straining, roars of triumph, and flat out performers who had given their all were contrasted by the encouragement and support given by the athletes not only to their own nationals but also the rivals from the other 12 countries involved. The Rio Olympics were still a distant dream for many, there were more pressing short term targets like the European Championships in Amsterdam at the start of July. I recognized some returning GB faces like Martin Brockman, Jo Rowland, and Jessica Taylor, but a debutant in his first senior competition took my memory back to the 1980’s. Elliot Thompson (below) has followed his dad Daley into the decathlon, and he was making good inroads in the long jump and shot putt on the first day.

Their dedication to the constant training is inspiring, pre meeting research showed me that many of the GB crew compete for universities or regional athletic clubs. Several are signed up to a sports modeling agency, a good practical way to support their hectic schedule of far flung events. Athletics is very popular in Tenerife, the Antonio Dominguez Stadium is home to Arona Athletics Club and they provided the stewards, timers, markers, and support staff for the competition. On the first morning the local youngsters battled through their own competition between the main events. I was drawn to the high jump, it fascinates me to see the different styles of run up and technique they use

A poor effort in school sports days egg and spoon races was about the limit of my athletic skill so I sought some insight from Mike Holmes, an experienced coach who was guiding Jessica Taylor, and Anna Rowe through their Tenerife trials, his third charge Jessica Tappin had to retire early with hamstring problems. “ The girls are chasing their qualifying marks for future events, Jessica is chasing 6,000 points for the Amsterdam Euros.”

Mike is a regular at the Arona Pruebas Combinadas and clearly enjoys coming here. “It’s the best place for us to compete in Europe, the climate is perfect, we hate the rain and don’t want anything above a light wind. It’s relaxed and informal at this event too but always well organized.”

By the Sunday evening session all the events were coming to a head, the 800 metres in the heptathlon was keenly contested and brought a big reward for heptathlon under 18 competitor Niamh Emerson. “I was on course to beat the two year old junior record of 5,725 points thanks to a personal best 6.21 in the long jump and I finished strongly to break through that target. The heat (it was 35 degrees on that final evening) made it tough but I’m very pleased with my performance and can look forward to the Euro youth finals in Georgia in July.”

The presentations again underlined the international flavour of the competition. In the ladies heptathlon the under 20’s finished with GB’s Michelle Hughes bronze and Anna Rowe silver, and Paola Serabia of Spain taking gold. The heptathlon under 18’s went Shannon Sheehy (Ireland) bronze, Marisa Vaz (Portugal) silver, and Niamh Emerson (GB) on gold. The senior top trio was Anaella Nyabeu (France) bronze, Lecabella Quaresma (Portugal) silver, and (below) Uhunoma Osazuwa (Nigeria) gold.

In the mens decathlon sections the under 18’s went to Jorge Davila (Spain) bronze, Manuel Dias (Portugal) silver, and Raul Schlecht (Spain) gold. Under 20’s line up was Dario Costas (Spain) bronze, Alessandro Van de Sande (Belgium) silver, and Dimitri Montilla (Belgium) gold. The senior mens awards went to Jeremy Lelievre (France) bronze, Romain Martin (France) silver, and (long jump above) Kristjan Rosenberg (Estonia) gold. All the effort put in on and off the track deserved a bigger crowd for the free event but too little too late on the publicity meant it was mainly families and friends watching.