Euro gold for Robson

KENDAL wrestler Joseph Robson struck gold in the European Championships of the Fédération Internationale des Luttes Celtiques when he retained his European title in the 90kg class. At the last European Championships in Sardinia two years ago he was unbeaten in the Cumberland and Westmorland style and he did the same again at Landerneau in Brittany.

Competing against wrestlers from Austria, Brittany, Iceland, Leon in Northern Spain, Sardinia and Scotland, he had a tough and largely unsuccessful first day competing in the Breton style.

But, on the second day, he came into his own in the back-hold section, using his height, strength and hiping skills to unsettle his opponents till he could finish off the opposition with a back-heel or a twist.

In the final he met the powerful Spaniard, Daniel Gonzalez, the best of five falls.

Robson is never frightened of wrestling close up to an opponent and he won the first bout of the final with a back-heel when both wrestlers found themselves standing up straight to each other. He took the second fall with a similar throw, but this time as a counter to the Spaniard's attack.

Robson's almost inevitable success was delayed when he lost the third fall. After making all the running he touched with a knee as they fell to the mat.

The victory was not long delayed, however, and came with a flourish as Robson hoisted his opponent onto a hipe and brought him smartly down to the mat.

Robert Leiper of Ponteland went one better than last time when he had the satisfaction of comprehensively beating the Sardinian Stefano Di Pucci in the final of the 100kg backhold class.

Two years ago it was Di Pucci who was master. The two rivals first met in the round-robin pool which sorts out who goes through to the semi-finals and there it was touch and go with Leiper winning by three bruising falls to two. In the final the story changed. Although Di Pucci surprised Leiper with a buttock to win the first fall, thereafter it was one-way traffic in favour of the Northumbrian.

The Sardinian again tried to buttock, but Leiper rushed him forward onto his nose. The last two falls came from positive hiping attacks from Leiper.

Andrew Carlile of Carlisle was the best all-rounder in the team as he won bronze medals in both styles. His semi-final bout with Robert Clark of Scotland in backhold was a classic demonstration of wrestling skill from two top wrestlers at the height of their powers. Clark won the first bout with a perfect hank which swirled Carlile up round and back to the mat. When the same trip came in their second hold, Carlile hooked a heel onto the hanker's standing leg and dumped him down with a back-heel. At this point Clark could have cracked, for his best ploy had been neutralised. Instead he took Carlile entirely by surprise wih a cross-click from the front which left Carlile without a left leg to stand on. And then he did it again.

Of the others in the team, Richard Dixon and John Harrington did well in the backhold, but were edged out from the semi-finals by the narrowest of margins. Alan Walton of Haltwhistle unfortunately sustained an injury in the Gouren on the first day which prevented him from wrestling in his own style on the second day.

Best wrestler of all in a high quality championship was a Breton well known in Cumbria. Matthieu le Dour won the Gouren 81kg final after four seconds with a Lamm, a rare perfect throw.

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