Archive for June 8th, 2013
What, No Egg And Spoon?

Well that gives you a pointer to how bad I was at athletics at school. In the summer months I longed for something easy like the sack race or egg and spoon, instead we got the Triple A tests. Thankfully there were only a few flashbacks to those trying times as I covered the Arona Combined Events for The Tenerife Weekly at the Estadio Olympico, a venue that has become a semi regular call for me when CD Marino are playing.

Jessica Taylor

Jo Rowland

It’s always good to see the experts doing sport properly and an international field included eight GB athletes ready to run, hurdle, vault, jump and much more in the heptathlon, octathlon, and decathlon. The run of cloudy weather had broken and hot sunshine bathed the stadium as I arrived and picked up my rather fetching dark green press bib and went mooching around among the competitors down at trackside.

Martin Brockman

I soon met the GB bunch, they were a nice friendly lot and the ladies 100 metres was just about to get under way so I hung around to check out the GB ladies, purely in a sporting way of course. The organization was good, plenty of back up volunteers, as the runners shed their layers ready for the racing small laundry baskets were filled with each runners gear, that seemed like good service, a free wash and spin. I never realized what a clunking bit of kit the starting blocks are, at school we just had the veiled threat of a sadistic PE teachers boot to inspire us.

100 metres.Grace Clements (2nd from right) Emma Buckett (4 from right).

As I squatted down to get some pics I became aware that the long jump was facing the other way and the first practice runner was thundering down towards the sand pit, I normally go to the beach if I want sand kicked in my face. Martin Brockman and Peter Glass both looked fired up but so did their rivals, Moving to the far end of the stadium for the high jump I noticed the local kids were also slotting their races in between the main events. There were medals galore for the young future stars, featuring local discus champion Mario Pestano’s imposing figure.

The stadium has a thriving athletics club and the facilities are first class, when I am lurking behind the goal to get photos at the CD Marino games I have to resist the urge to have a sneaky bounce on the large padded mattress that catches the high jumpers. There were two jumps going on at once with the ladies propelling themselves over the ever rising bar, again there was an interesting contrast between the short and long run ups and the GB ladies were up there with the leaders, Jessica Taylor, Emma Buckett, and Jo Rowland had great technique.

Emma Buckett

Jessica Taylor

Returning after the afternoon break I got the chance to watch the ladies shot putt, Grace Clement and Jo Rowland were on good form. There were several individual coaches in the crowd signaling useful tips to the ladies and it was noticeable that the GB party were very supportive of each other, those awaiting their next action made sure they gave plenty of encouragement to those competing. At the end of the day Grace Clements kindly made time for me to interview her, everyone thinks after the London Olympics that athletes are up there with other top sports but they have to work hard to get sponsors. Grace had been a teacher but is now doing part time work at her adopted Lee Valley track to support her quest for glory. At least the Arona tournament was able to offer all the competitors three nights free accommodation at the nearby Hotel Noelia Sur.

Grace Clements

Sunday was a busy day for me with the CD Tenerife away promotion decider on TV Canarias in the morning but I managed to sandwich a few more hours of athletics in between that and hitting the south airport to see CDT return. Mens javelin and discus were underway at the stadium, sat on the grass just in front of the launch area for the javelin seemed a good place to be. Harry Sutherland the youngest of the GB group was chasing the points as the competition hotted up. The distances some of these chaps were getting was quite staggering, I thought Roque del Conde might end up looking like a porcupine, the majestic rise of the metal spears was almost hypnotic as they leveled off and then plunged down to impale the grass beyond the centre circle – the groundsman was probably crying somewhere in a darkened room.

Martin Brockman

Harry Sutherland

GB – Emma Buckett, Jo Rowland, Harry Sutherland,Peter Glass, Martin Brockman, Jessica Taylor, Grace Clements

The discus was also going on from inside the netted circle and Mario Pestano was attracting a lot of interest, he is very big in Arona, or anywhere else come to that, but some of the other throwers were truly mammoth power houses. The longer running events were the climax of the day, alas I only got to see the qualifying runs, Harry Sutherland and Roger Skedd had a fair bit of ground to make up, at the final reckoning Martin Brockman was the highest GB male in the decathlon in third but the ladies excelled with Jo Rowland winning the heptathlon closely followed by Grace Clements in second and Jessica Taylor in third. Full marks to all of them and the organizers for such a cracking competition, I now have a renewed admiration for athletics.