Archive for the 'Sport' Category
Polished Cup And Polished Image With Nandu Rugby Youth

Lifting the trophy for the Canarian League with a 36-19 win over Las Palmas was the latest milestone for Nandu Under 18’s but their journey started two seasons ago with grueling two game weekends in the Catalan League.

The skill, dedication, and spirit of the squad shone through at T3 in La Caleta but even in their finest hour they showed enormous respect to their beaten opponents, forming a guard of honour and clapping them off the field. It’s not just about winning for Nandu, they like to uphold the spirit of sport and set high personal standards. It was a pleasure for me not to endure the theatricals and moaning that blights much of the football I watch – and these youngsters certainly play tough.

My knowledge of Rugby Union is sketchy at best, this was only the second live game I have seen, The strong Welsh accent of coach Jamie Whelan was constantly encouraging his multi national players, one described them as a “Tutti Frutti” team. Las Palmas were a bigger side, they had some very big built players and Nandu included several 14 year old players on their roster. Despite that the home side tore into their opponents and pinned them down for much of the first half while racking up the tries and conversions. Captain Jacob Oakenfold led from the front, the fly half was always on hand to win and convert tries made by Nandu’s fast breaking game. The whole squad looked well drilled at line outs and rucks and everyone played their part in a very entertaining game.

The under 18’s have grown together into a winning unit despite the lack of money at this grass roots level, seeking testing opponents they joined the 10 tem Catalan League last year which meant tight schedules to get two games in on the mainland without cutting into school and college time. The costs for that season were 44,000 euros, only partly offset by sponsorship and advertising the club committee had to work hard to find. This season they had to give up the Catalan League for the more affordable 4 team Canarian League, the sport is building a stronghold in the islands with Las Palmas joined by El Medano, and CR Mahoh of Fuerteventura.

Around 100 spectators shared the feeling of pride when a late Las Palmas rally was cut short to ensure the trophy. Monster Travel, keen supporters of the club, supplied the winners cup and a trophy for the gallant losers. The champagne flowed, and gave the coach and his staff a refreshing splash, progress is always on the players minds, they now have to train hard for new challenges. On 7 and 8 May they travel to near Alicante (Villasoyosa) to play in a tournament featuring the best under 18’s from across Spain. All this takes money, the club are keen to welcome more sponsors and advertisers, volunteers to help on match days and with admin are always welcome. It’s like a big family at Nandu, the players are a real credit to the club and the sense of pride and sportsmanship instilled into players speaks volumes for the values of the club. If you want to get involved call Paul Oakenfold on 664361058, if you want to catch a game you can keep in touch at Nandu on Facebook. Games are free to watch, they have a quality 2 euro match programme,  and they will make yyou feel very welcome.

Green Flag Beats Yellow Alert For Water Ski Racers

How dare the weather try to rob us of the return of waterski racing to Puerto Colon, thankfully the expertise and hunger of some of Europe’s top racers ensured half of the planned Tenerife Open International went ahead. Queues lined the pontoons of Puerto Colon marina as holiday makers waited to board pleasure boats, the sun sparkled off the sea, and the island of La Gomera was crystal clear. Sounds perfect but a yellow weather alert and strong waves rolling onto the beaches of Playa de Las Americas meant that Saturday’s action was postponed but it merely sharpened appetites for Sunday’s racing in improved conditions.

At least the cautious waiting on the opening day gave me a chance to catch up with competitors and families that I met at the World Championships at the same venue two years ago. This was a smaller field but 11 boats were assembled in the pits area with skiers, drivers, and in boat observers from Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, France, and Austria. The camaraderie of the enthusiasts overcame the need to ship boats in at great expense, some have a semi permanent home in the large boatyard, well Tenerife is growing as a centre for the sport. Skier Nadia Jay Mersey, driver Barry Clapson, and observer Simon Smith from Essex were pleased to get their hands on Kraken, their loaned boat.

It’s a sport for all ages, 15 year old Sarah Bennett, a GB skier from Norfolk couldn’t believe her luck when a pre planned Tenerife holiday coincided with the tournament. Part of her plan was to take part in Sunday’s twin skiers exhibition races but moving the main competition back a day stopped that. The pits were busy with fine tuning, not all of it high tech, washing up liquid was one of the most sought after commodities – good for easing the ski straps around the legs so I’m told. Safety always comes first for these daring participants so the news of Saturdays call off was accepted as a sensible move. A few of the boats did get to test the waters around a limited version of the long oval race course.

An early Sunday start found the waters in much more agreeable mood and they whizzed through the main competition before the big waves reared up again. Sarah Bennett got a third spot in the Euro Kids B category with Laura Fuentes winning. Euro Kids A went to Jorge Garcia, and Adrian Martin took the Junior crown with the Under 21 race going to Sergio Gutierez. Sabine Ortlieb of Austria took the ladies title before the mens final, trimmed from 45 to 35 minutes plus one lap. Belgium’s Robin Marien added the F2 title to his trophy win in last year’s Tenerife Open. The F3 champion was Marcos Llanos behind Crabzy. The weather may have conspired against them but waterski racing again proved that it can offer another exciting dimension to Tenerife’s sporting calendar. Even as they went through their paces news was breaking that Puerto Colon is in pole position to stage the 2016 European Championships.

 

 

Waterski Racing To Make Waves In Puerto Colon

If you like your sport fast, thrilling, and free you should head to Puerto Colon for the Tenerife Open International Waterski Racing Championships on Saturday 31st October and Sunday 1st November. I love embracing different sports and two years ago I was hooked by the World Championships at the same venue, I was on the edge of my seat, well balancing on the rocks in front of the harbour wall.

The marina just below San Eugenio is best known to holiday makers as the starting point for whale and dolphin watching, scuba diving, sailing, and every type of water sport you could imagine. Two years ago that seven day event brought the cream of waterski racing from around the globe and thousands of new converts lapped up the action. Just a month ago the Spanish championships took place up the west coast in Playa San Juan, and previous events have been held in Los Gigantes. This year things are going to get even wetter and wilder as the weekend unfolds.

SAT 31st OCT – OPEN RACE

2.30 to 3 pm Junior Under 21, Euro Kids A & B – 25 mins and one lap

3.40 to 4.15 pm Ladies F1 , F2 ,and Masters – 30 mins and one lap

4.55 to 5.45 pm Men F1, F2, F3 – 45 mins and one lap.

SUNDAY 1st NOV – TWIN RACE

10.30 to 10.50 am Euro Kids, Juniors – 15 mins and one lap

11.00 to 11.55 am Ladies, Masters – 20 mins and one lap

12.40 to 1.05 pm   Men F1, F2, F3 – 25 mins and one lap

The championships will be decided on Saturday but there’s something very special on the Sunday, twin racing with two skiers behind each boat. This is a format usually seen in Australia but rarely in Europe, it’s an exhibition event and very spectacular. Both types of racing need a real team effort with different skills being displayed by the skier, the boat driver, and an all important observer facing out from the back of the boat, reading and relaying what’s going on in their wake to the driver.

This year competitors are converging from around Europe with skiing stars like Nico de Stoop, and Maikel de Block from Belgium, Sabine Ortieb from Austria (Ladies 4th in 2013 Worlds) and many of the top Spanish enthusiasts. There’s British interest with Nadia Jay Mersey holding the rope behind driver Barry Clapson and observer Simon Smith, the Islington crew will be with the boat Novelero. With up to nine boats racing at a time the large oval circuit will be whipped up into a frenzy, and the spectators will feel similar sensations. It’s going to be an enthralling contest of speed, power, and skill, I hope to see loads of you down there at Puerto Colon.

Rolling Out The Thrills With The Roller Derby Girls

Lex Plode, Max Voltage, Lady Macdeath, Jackie The Ripper, and Sherry Bomb were whipping up a storm as they whizzed around the circuit with The Buzzcocks lending an edgy punk soundtrack. This was just the warm up of my first roller derby match and if those names weren’t intimidating enough there was always the seven officials including Bella Karlofa and Belle Anger. I had only recently discovered that this popular ladies sport wasn’t just confined to America and now I was seeing it first hand in Santa Cruz at the Pancho Camurria sports centre.


The visit of Batter C Power from London reeled me in and a few hours before the action I met Hannah Charles, AKA Baby Cheesus, near the London teams hotel by Plaza del Candelaria. The Welsh international explained some of the basics and the UK angle. “London Roller Girls is a big club with around 60 players and we play out of Crystal Palace but for this trip we’ve brought 11 players from the third team. Normally there are 14 on a side with five skating at a time, four blockers and a jammer that does the scoring by overtaking opposition players. “

My nearest points of reference to Roller Derby were following ice hockey, and the 1972 Raquel Welch film Kansas City Bomber but it was amore recent film that drew Hannah to the sport. “I saw Whip It three years ago and had to have a go, I was soon hooked. It’s great for all body types, I’m a jammer and that’s more about being nippy but the sport has a strong physical edge that I like. Broken legs and concussion can happen and there are always routine bruises.” Hannah showed off a shoulder bruise at this point but I was already enchanted long before that.

Tenerife was just one of many stop offs since Hannah took up the skates. “I went to Belgium last year with the Wales team, we finished fifth out of eight countries. London Roller Girls were the first non American entries in the World Club Championships last year in Nashville.”
I had also made contact with Tenerife Roller Derby and arriving at the Pancho Camurria for the warm up I had a chat with captain Mercedes (skating as Mercromina) who brought me up to speed on their history. “Esther Arrocha formed the team four years ago, she had played for Erasmus in Manchester and is now living and playing in London. Spain are playing in the World Championships in Dallas this December and there will be seven players from our club as well as Esther.”

There was a lot of preparation before the game started, the refs were marking out the oval track with tape, the teams were practicing their drills and slipping in their gum shields to go with the knee, elbow, and wrist pads. Mutual respect was high on the list too, the teams each skated a few laps to get the applause of the near 400 crowd and then swapped high fives as they filed past each other. Once the first 30 minute half started the niceties were at a minimum as the jammers (identified by a star on a helmet cover) tried to barge, dodge, and power their way past the blockers. Effectively there were two battles going on as the teams tried to shield their own jammer until they could break through and also keep out the opponents scorer.


The officials made sure safety was preserved with sin bin seats for offenders, and close attention to the furious action but there were medics with a trolley on the sidelines just in case. The Pancho Camurria also hosts boxing but it didn’t come to that and when skaters did crash there was an instant ring of refs around them as they recovered. It was quite technical, alert minds and bodies were definitely needed, my little pea brain was just about getting to grips with the scoring. Breaks in play for pack changes and new laps extend the game time to nearly two hours including a 15 minute halfway break.


Sadly my schedule meant I had to shoot across the city to meet the Armada Sur for the CD Tenerife game so I left at half time. It was long enough to get a taste of the dedication, skill, and passion of these players, there’s no big money for them, just late training around jobs and studying and paying for kit etc. The London ladies had to cover nearly all the cost of their trip over and undergo similar unsocial hours for training. Tenerife loves sport, with regular games the Pancho Camurria could be packed but it’s costly for other teams to come for friendlies. You can’t fault them for organization, they run their own drink and snack bar, produce a programme, and sell replica shirts and merchandise, they were even selling London shirts for their visitors, that’s a classy touch.


It was a close run contest, Batter C Power edged it by 153 points to 149 and the two sides enjoyed an after match party to cement the links between the clubs. Tenerife games are as and when they can arrange friendlies so if you want to catch the action or take up playing join them on Facebook at Tenerife Roller Derby. UK based readers can do the same via www.londonrollergirls.com

 

Only The Toughest Tackle Teide Xtreme

This was a day of extraordinary athletes, nature had designed the most unforgiving of all courses and as the sun rose over Guaza Mountain some 200 sportsmen and women lined the shore of Las Vistas beach in Los Cristianos. Five hours, twenty seven minutes and fourty nine seconds later Kevin Thornton from Galway, Ireland, burst across the Teide Xtreme finish line as the winner but Tenerife was every bit the star as the drama unfolded.

A tractor resurfaced the beach in the half light and the water lapped at the feet of the eager athletes as 8 am approached. The swimmers splashed into the waves, some in cut off wet suits and others in shorts and steered across the bay via the marker buoys as support boats and surf board mounted stewards watched over them. Two laps of 850 metres was the opening challenge with a few toes full of sand as they rounded a beach marker before submerging again.


It was amazing how soon they spread out and even more impressive how quickly the leaders came bounding out and up the sand to the promenade and on towards the transition zone. Competitors had arrived from 13 countries and must have been impressed at the slick organization of Tenerife Top Training. Everyone knew where their bikes were stationed with cycling kit neatly laid out alongside for a lightning strip down to dry basics and a new layer of lycra and helmets.

Triathlons are booming world wide but few countries can match the beauty and rugged resistance of the roads leading up into the hills and villages on the 96 km second stage. I boarded the press bus and we shadowed the cyclists as they climbed through Guia de Isora and then pulled ahead for a stop at Bar Las Estrellas at km 34, one of the top up points for the hot peddlers. Teams of volunteers handed out bananas (Canarian of course) water, isotonic drinks, and energy bars and mopped up the empty water bottles that just missed the bins as they slowed their pace a fraction.

Then the muscles and sinews got stretched a little further as we followed the climb through Chio and across the edge of Teide national park to Retamar at 2,200 metres high. It was a cloudless day and the volcanic landscape looked magnificent, talking to competitors later it was clear that even in their heightened state of race focus they appreciated the wonders that spread around them. Sadly on the downward stretch, back marker Carmen Hernandez Paez lost control of her bike on a corner between Las Lajas and Vilaflor and fell knocking her head on a wall. Although she was rushed to hospital she died later, a very sad accident on an otherwise smooth day. I was impressed by the level of stewarding by the volunteers, police, and Civil Protection, each junction, village, and crossroads we passed was well manned for the entire route.


Heading down through Arona, I thought we might get back to the coast way ahead of any riders but within minutes of arriving at the transition point Kevin Thornton came whizzing into the enclosure, dismounted, changed clothes, and was off for the 21 km run, three circuits of the promenade between Las Vistas and Playa el Bobo. It was early afternoon and even the keenest sun worshippers were opting for the shade or the sea but these athletes are a tough bunch and pushed themselves for the final stage. Back at the transition point the countdown had begun with Kevin Thornton strengthening his lead and burning off the kms on the way to the finishing arch. As the leading group turned into the final stretch, others were still evolving from bikers to runners and continued chasing their personal goals as a crescendo of cheers greeted the winner.

It was a tremendous achievement from Kevin Thornton, shaving nearly ten minutes off last years inaugural time. I managed a few words with the winner, he hardly seemed out of breath. Recovering from collarbone and achilles injuries he had only booked his place a couple of days before after a Seville comeback event was cancelled. It wasn’t a bad way to celebrate a first ever visit to Tenerife, the water bottle he clutched was soon emptied but he looked good for a lap of honour. As a spectacle it was a fabulous day, big respect to everyone who took part and those who made it all possible. As a promotion for Tenerife it had everything, a Canadian magazine journalist was among those lapping up the action, our island is perfect for such high octane events, I can hardly wait for next year.

Spanish Ladies Open Votes Yes For Golf Costa Adeje

How appropriate that 128 of the best ladies golfers from around the globe teed off at Golf Costa Adeje on the day women were finally admitted to The Royal and Ancient Golf Club in Scotland. Not that the ladies professional game has been kicking its heels waiting for such a sign, the sport is always marching forward and this years Spanish Ladies Open is set to add more new converts.


I’m not a golfer myself but the annual ladies contest in Tenerife, in various forms, always figures on my sporting radar. Cloud was rolling over the Costa Adeje course when I arrived on the first day but the readouts were still showing 26 degrees, no wonder each days play was set for an 8am start. I already knew there was a prize pot of 350,000 euros this year, picking up a copy of last years order of merit, the earnings list was more than healthy with the lowest of the 104 players picking up just under 10,000 euros and the leader Suzann Pettersen of Norway raking in 315, 867.72 (don’t forget that 72 cents).

On the course I recognized quite a few of the players from previous years, Lee Anne Pace (top white) was back to defend her title, 26 countries are involved this year with a good spread of Brits. Trish Johnson and Melissa Reid are both previous tournament winners in Tenerife but a new name Charley Hull was making the early running. As the cloud parted and cranked up the heat, La Gomera stood proud across the Atlantic with a cloudy halo framing it nicely. There weren’t that many spectators despite entry and parking being free, most will come on Saturday and Sunday after the cut reduces the field to 60 contenders.


I noticed a few of the ladies didn’t have caddies and were dragging their own trolleys, a few semi regular caddies had told me they had cut the fees this year but let’s just call it character building for those doubling as players and carriers. The higher ranked players get other advantages like sponsored outfits, ladies golf fashion is a competitive business now and the new designs were getting lots of publicity from the TV cameras following every shot. My eyes were certainly drawn to more than the technical style on show.


I don’t want to show any bias but it would be good to see another Brit winner, maybe one of the Scottish ladies could crown a momentous week north of the border. In a year when Brazil failed to win their home football crown I can’t help but hope that Victoria Lovelady flies their flag high – well that is a cracking name. If you want to keep an eye on scores as they develop go to www.spanishladiesopen.com and pop down to see another world class event set against our world class scenery.

 

 

Wind Assisted Wonders On El Medano Launch Pad

Skimming over the waves or slicing through the air, the 48 pilots on the PWA Windsurfing World Tour tamed nature again and again in El Medano. Always a highlight of my Tenerife sporting calendar this multi coloured spectacle turns the chilled out surfers paradise into the place to be for a week every summer.


It was business as usual at the small sandy beaches stretching away from the English style pier on the Montaña Roja side of town. Families made the most of the beach , receding in the face of the tide, and kite surfers peppered the sky above the sand dunes as others sought shade in cosy promenade cafes. But a turn around the headland and El Cabezo beach saw the wind greet us with full force, the best news we could have hoped for. This year the leading 32 men and 16 women had gathered to enjoy one of the most popular settings for their sport of choice.


The best part of a week is set aside but it often finishes early as they milk every last gust of wind and curl of wave before a lull can leave them frustrated. Two giants have emerged to dominate in recent years and were leading the way again, Philip Koster of Germany bends the elements to his will and Iballa Moreno of Gran Canaria fends off her two challengers, nature and her twin sister Daida. The pit area consists of a reserved space of beach covered in sails and boards between the public viewing zone and the raised judges hut, the nerve centre of the scoring and supervision. Each rider gets a two minute slot to showcase their best moves riding the waves or twisting the weighty board and sail combo up into the howling winds.


I was constantly mopping the spray from my camera lens as I admired the sheer strength needed to drag their mounts out into the water and then tack into the breeze to get a good run across the bay. The official window cleaner for the scoring hut was kept busy wiping the glass to ensure the judges the best of views while others perched on rocks or at the improved spectators seating near the presentation tent and food point. The international appeal of the sport is reflected in the venues, next up are Turkey and Poland, and the competitors from as far away as Australia, Hungary and the UK, I caught up with Sarah Bibby from Plymouth, pictured below on the left of Maeli Cherel from Australia.


“ This is my first time here, on the opening two days the weather was ok but it is near perfect now for me with big waves and a lighter wind. This is my first year on the PWA tour and realistically I would be pleased to get in the top ten.” Not that you could call Sarah a novice. “I have been windsurfing for 10 years, I do as much as I can in Cornwall” she came third in a four nations event back there last year and has already won the Australia river wave competition this year. An understanding employer has given her time off to chase the dream this year. “I work for Babcock at Devonport Royal Dockyard in Plymouth docks and have just completed two years of my graduate training programme.”
All the windsurfers take the spills in their stride, I asked Sarah if she had any bad injuries, she just shrugged and casually recalled. “Well I have torn ligaments in both feet and bitten through my lip.”

 

It’s a long and very hot day for the competitors, they have been giving it their all from early morning until dusk at 8.30pm but for many that signals the start of a good natured social life. El Medano is always geared up for informal parties and there are plenty late gatherings with music to enjoy, there’s a special shared bond between the riders and the help and co-operation down at the pits area is very noticeable. There was another reminder of the potential danger of the sea when a swimmer had to be winched up by helicopter at 6pm in the evening, it takes a special breed to tangle with the bigger waves.The PWA elite may move on but there are plenty of keen wave riders all year round in El Medano just loving every wet, adrenaline filled moment.

 

 

Small Ripples From Beach Water Polo

For a relatively small beach they were certainly packing it in at Puerto Colon, the large inflatable icebergs were being swarmed over by eager young children and the sea was full of swimmers taking a cooling dip. But it was the fourth International Beach Water polo Tournament that had attracted me along the coast on a baking hot afternoon.


The floating court was set up on the far side of the bay just below the old El Faro nightclub and the dance music was belting out from the small admin tent set up on the sand. Publicity for this three day event was as ever shockingly poor and few of the sun bathers basking on the beach seemed to have any idea what was taking place although a few of the ladies were showing an interest in the fit swimmers taking to the water in their team coloured budgie smugglers.

During the training games I explored the viewing options on the rocks that reach out close to the court, last year at the Water Ski Racing championships the longer stretch of rocks by the harbour wall was the place to be. I was less than graceful picking my way over the uneven boulders but somehow kept my balance. Up on the side coastal path a steady flow of walkers stopped and took a curious look at the court near the mouth of the bay.


Once it was time for the games to start I thought they would use the PA system to inform and animate the beach users but apart from a few calls to the players it was all banging tunes. Games are played with four players and a goalie on each team over two ten minute halves, the sides had extra players for substitutions but they had to tread water just outside the court while the referee stood on a nearby rock and controlled the game. It’s a fast flowing sport with plenty of goals and hard to keep track of the scoring with no announcements, but the players team coloured caps and numbers helped to keep track of those taking part.


Back on the sand most were oblivious to the action taking place, the African ladies lounged in the shade offering hair braiding and the bars and restaurants were doing a steady trade in cooling down the sun worshippers. The driving force behind the contest was CN Echeyde, based in Santa Cruz, they play in the Spanish professional league. The contest was an ideal time to push their sport and maybe recruit some more players and fans but there wasn’t much there to encourage any of the curious. The action goes on through Saturday until 8pm and concludes on Sunday from 9 am until the grand final at 2 pm. I will be back for more and to see if it captures the imagination of the public and stirs them from their sun beds.

Run Jump Throw And Hurdle, It’s Arona Combined Events Athletics

Was the Fosberry Flop a jump in athletics, a punk band, or something I tried to cook once? I’m sure it was athletics and it flicked through my memory as I sat on the grass watching young ladies hurling themselves over an ever rising bar at the Arona Combined Events meeting in Playa de Las Americas. The Estadio Antonio Dominguez is where I normally watch CD Marino so it felt good to be there, especially after enjoying last years event so much.


This years appeal was stronger than ever with athletes drawn from as far away as Qatar, Australia, Estonia, and eight from Great Britain. I arrived on Saturday morning for the sprint races and the stadium was buzzing with activity as the volunteer marshals and stewards ensured the smooth running of the heats. It was nice to grab a quick chat with Grace Clements who I interviewed last year, she is on course to qualify for this years Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, an event that was on many minds over the two days of competition.


One of the late confirmations was Katarina Johnson Thompson  (above ) from Liverpool, she wasn’t a full competitor, just training, but she still scorched to the front in her heptathlon 100 metres with a personal best. That was another positive step towards Glasgow with a big meeting in Austria hot on its heels. The long jump was going on in between the sprints and Peter Glass and Martin Brockman came thundering down the run up before launching themselves into the sand pit.


Over at the Green Hospital end there was a tense contest between the women in the high jump, including Grace Clements (above red ) and  Jess Taylor (below yellow) .This fascinates me as they have very differing styles of run up, Australian Lauren Foote and Estonian Mari Klaup had a very short sharp run up but most were measuring out big strides before taking off.


At this stage I must give Mari Klaup a special mention in the fashion stakes, her skull and crossbones wrap made me giggle but it kept her warm on a weekend when the sun was playing hide and seek. Arona Athletics Club is the biggest in Tenerife and they were holding a junior open championship in between the main event, it was great for the youngsters to mix with top athletes in front of a very healthy crowd. As I left for the afternoon break I saw the medals and trophies being given out, quite a glittering array.


Back later for the evening session I got to see some shot putt action, lots of grunting and groaning as they threw, but once I stopped that it was nice and quiet for them. More sprints rounded off the day as the sun gave way to the floodlights. I took the chance to interrupt my walk home with a few beers but didn’t go mad and chase my personal best. Sunday morning I was back for CD Marino, the athletics was put back to fit it all in, I was very impressed how quickly after the match they dismantled one of the goals, laid all the cables for the commentary from the various competition points, and put out the banners, hurdles, and measurement marks for the discuss.

As all the activity was going on I grabbed a few words with Richard Reeks from Poole, a decathlete serving with the Royal Navy.
“This is an important time in my season, three decathletes will go to Glasgow and two are already through so I am battling it out with Martin Brockman. A few of the other GB athletes were here last year so I knew it would be a good tournament to push me on, they have been looking after us well and have made the smaller (Anexo) stadium available to us for extra training during the event. I hope to make Glasgow and then look onwards to the Olympics in Brazil, I’m lucky that the Navy let me pursue my sport as a full time athlete (he wore his Royal Navy sweatshirt with pride between events) and they have been very supportive.”

Thankfully I was able to see Richard (white vest), Martin (middle red), and Peter Glass (above red) of Northern Ireland attack the hurdles before I had to sneak off to see CD Tenerife’s away game on TV. The men’s decathlon was won by Florian Geffrouais of France with Martin Brockman second. The women’s heptathlon went to Marisa de Ancieto with Jess Taylor taking third spot. I will be carefully watching the Commonwealth Games this year and hoping that Arona played its part in helping many of the participants to reach the big stage.

 

Horses For Courses Above Los Cristianos

The thunder of hooves, the clouds of dust, and the intricate skills of horse riders added a new chapter to my sporting memories as I enjoyed the Sortija de Caballos on the side of Montaña Chayofita.

For many it’s just that small mound above Los Cristianos beach with the unfinished building, many others like myself have used it as a nice warm up walk when the urge to go hiking comes knocking. But on this Saturday afternoon I wasn’t quite sure what I would find as I took the track just above the ring road. I imagined a parade and the odd race of a few horses but it was much better organized than that and backed by Arona Deportes.

A paddock area had been set up with horse boxes containing 20 horses eager to get out and stretch their legs. A few people I spoke to told me these events happen a lot in the north of Tenerife, the last being in Arafo. A partially built road was the track and on a frame set up over it there were small coloured ribbons to be plucked off in mid gallop. This was the main competition to be followed by straight forward races, riders registered at the announcer’s box where trophies awaited. It was more about the challenge than any big rewards but there was plenty of food to be won for the horses – well it was a big day for them too. A large snack and drink van was set up and helped the relaxed, friendly feel to the competition,

After plenty of warm up gallops the riders went down to the lower end of the hill  and charged up as the riders tried to snatch the ribbons in that brief spell they were reachable. It looked very difficult but some made light work of it. The horses looked wonderful, a mix of power and beauty and clearly well looked after.

There was a decent crowd, many of them obviously knew each other from similar events, a few curious walkers hung around to enjoy the spectacle, and hopefully some of the others had responded after seeing my preview in The Tenerife Weekly. I should imagine there was a good few drinks enjoyed later on as stories were swapped, for me it was a new experience and I will be looking out for future meetings.