Last October........

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............we hosted an excellent Youth International in the Carlisle area. Last month saw the biggest group of Cumberland and Westmorland wrestlers ever to go abroad to compete when we took a bus-load to the Brittany Backhold Championships. But this month we are struggling to find wrestlers for the European Championships in Spain and have no chance of fielding a full team.

The Championship, which is held every two years, is the main event of the International Federation of Celtic Wrestling. The city of Leon in Northern Spain is the host and has a good record both as a host venue, but also as one of the dominant teams in the international events.

The lack of English wrestlers able to compete is especially disappointing as the English team had made strides in their understanding and performance in the Gouren style since the Breton wrestler, Sylvain Begoc, overwintered in Carlisle to improve his English and in exchange coached the likes of Andrew Carlile and David Atkinson to new levels in Gouren. Not only were their own levels of performance boosted, but they also learnt how to coach others in the technical intricacies of Gouren

Age and employment are the main problems when choosing a team to represent this area. Last year was a vintage year for C&W Wrestling, but that success came from the enthusiasm of youth. Older wrestlers with international experience, like Jason Davidson and Darren Whitfield have work and family commitments, which make training and competition more difficult.

By far the biggest problem lies in the predominantly rural nature of wrestling. The rules of the IFCW say that the championships should be during the Easter period, usually in April, and that is when farming makes its biggest demands. Richard Dixon, John Harrington, Richard Fox and Robert Leiper are all tied by lambing and calving, and maybe first cut silaging. Add to this list David Atkinson and Robert Wharton who are recovering from injury and you see a decimated team.

The only wrestler who has said that he is keen and able to go is Andrew Carlile, a veteran of many international campaigns, who is on excellent form these days.

Decisions have to be made in the next day or two, as the final date for team registrations is March 18th. If any wrestler wishes to take part, he should contact me immediately on 016974 73559.

We were founder members of the IFCW in 1985, and have always striven to play our part, but this year we are struggling to do so.

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (February 10th 2011)

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