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.


Jo Rowland
July 16th, 2016 2:19 pm

Great article. I was just wondered if you had any more photos from the event! Thanks

July 17th, 2016 4:22 am

Thanks Jo. Here’s a link to the photo collection.