Flying the Flag at the Espoirs Championships in April

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Wrestlers from this region will once more be flying the flag for England on an international stage when they take part in the European Espoirs Championships in Brittany in April. The wrestlers have to be at least sixteen and not yet twenty-one years of age, and be prepared to compete over two days in both our own backhold style, and the Breton style which in their language is called Gouren.

International wrestling is a long way from a muddy field on the side of a Lakeland fell: the line-up of teams for the opening ceremony at a previous international in Brittany

As there could be ten teams competing in the Championships, a high level of fitness is needed to survive all the bouts, a high standard of competence in Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling is essential and intensive training in the alien Gouren style a prerequisite. Anyone who fancies a go should attend the first training session at Currock House, Carlisle on Sunday, 7 th February (2- 4pm)

The coaching team is as good as it gets for us. Alan Jones and David Atkinson will be in charge of the team while it is in Brittany , as well as for the preliminary coaching, and in addition, Andrew Carlile will be at hand each week to teach the finer points of Gouren to a new generation of wrestlers. Alan Jones is the great motivator of wrestlers and himself competed in the European Championships in their early days in the eighties. David Atkinson and Andrew Carlile are our two wrestlers with the best knowledge of technique in Gouren. They have both competed and achieved the highest levels in several European Championships at both Junior and Senior levels. Their own knowledge of Gouren and coaching techniques was boosted immeasurably when Sylvain Begoc, a top Breton wrestler, over-wintered in Carlisle . His main purpose was to boost his English skills, which he did by taking hotel work, but he also put in place a prolonged and detailed course of training in his beloved Gouren.

The big question is whether we have the young wrestlers who are skilful and determined enough to make their mark this year. From Northumberland Jacob Wragg and the Under 18 Champion, Jack Hale, have expressed interest, and there are also the likes of Ross Wilkinson and Nathan Birdsall, who may take part, but have the complication of being at University. In the Kendal area, Sam Wilkinson and Stuart Mason have the qualities needed. Down in West Cumbria at Waberthwaite are Ashleigh Killip and Andrew Woodend who add so much to their academy. In Carlisle Wrestling Club are the Ridley brothers, Joe Thompson, Watchai Noimai, David Miller, Jack Ewart, Paul Murray and Craig Naylor. Ewart, Murray and Naylor all regularly trained with the senior wrestlers for the 2009 European Championships, so are not beginners. The coaches hope that some of those senior wrestlers who took part in East Kilbride last year will turn up to help with the training sessions. Everything is in place; all we need now is action.

In November and December of last year I gave bulletins about the critical illness of Kendal wrestler, Joseph Robson, multi-champion at 14 and 15 stones. After surviving acute pneomonia he eventually returned home for Christmas, only to be rushed into hospital with meningitis on Chistmas Eve. Thankfully, Joseph is now at home and mending fast. He is more than three stones lighter than his fighting weight, and will be off work for a while yet, but no permanent damage has been done, and he is up and about and active again.

Dates:

Sunday, 7 th February 2pm- 4pm Training session for the European Espoirs Championships in the Gym at Currock House.

Wednesday, 10 th February Carlisle Wrestling Club Junior Points Night at Currock House.

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

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