Wrestlers head for Europe

A STRONG team of Cumberland and Westmorland wrestlers will contest the European Championships of Celtic Wrestling in Landerneau, Brittany on May 7 and 8.

The quality of the team of seven is fortuitous, as it consists of the only wrestlers to register an interest in competing, and luckily each wrestler fits one of the weight categories ranging from 62kg to 100+kg.

Richard Dixon of Lessonhall, Wigton, who will wrestle at 62kg (9st 10lb) is the only wrestler with a weight problem, and is whittling away at that week by week.

In 1999 he would have had no weight problems for he was a little spelk of a lad who "with no obvious physical advantage over his rivals was beaten only once in a full season, coming first no fewer than 36 times in the Under 12 Years category. Now he is tall, thin and strong.

Andrew Carlile of Carlisle used to be the wrestler losing weight to fit the flyweight section, but instead he will be at his natural weight when he competes at 68kg (10st 10lb).

Double Champion John Harrington of Bewaldeth at 74kg (11st 10lb) Alan Walton of Haltwhistle at 81kg (12st 10lb) and Robert Leiper of Ponteland at 100kg (15st 10lb) have all had their training curtailed by lambing time on their farms, but they will all be strong contenders in the backhold section. Their problem may be to adapt to the Gouren style without more preparation.

At 90kg (14st 2lb) Joseph Robson of Grayrigg, Kendal is full up to the weight and strong with it. His work as a forester and tree surgeon means that every day is a fitness work-out, but he has also been attending the weekly training sessions at Carlisle to sharpen up for the event.

Russell Housby, from near Aspatria, weighing in at well over 18st, is the superheavyweight contender. Last year he was the overall winner of the Brittany Backhold Championships and won the heavyweight section of the European Junior Championships in Austria, despite wrestling with a badly sprained ankle in the final.

All the wrestlers in the team know how to win as they have all held championship titles. In addition all of them have had international experience previously, so they know what to expect.

Alan Jones of Hallbankgate is the team coach. His wide experience, commitment and passion for the sport should be inspirational for the team.

Eight full teams are expected to take part: Austria, Brittany, Friesland (Holland), Leon from Northern Spain, Iceland, Sardinia, Scotland and ourselves

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (May 4th 2011)

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