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Not many people know this, but fifty years ago I took part in an international wrestling match between the UK and Iceland . The ring was moss and gravel overlooked by nearby ice-caps, and the crowds were not great being made up of larks high in the air, curious ptarmigan scuttling around our feet, distant sheep, and the seven other lads who were in my meteorological group as part of the British Schools Exploring Society expedition to Central Iceland 1960. The opposition was an Icelandic lad who had been attached to us for the summer as a diplomatic gesture in the midst of the Cod Wars. Since then I have returned twice with official wrestling teams. In 1990 Iceland hosted the European Championships of the International Federation of Celtic Wrestling in Reykjavik , and in 1994 I took a youth team to Iceland 's mega-event, the Althing, when all communities gather to compete in everything from Olympic sports to milking cows. Significantly more wrestling traffic flowed the other way. Firstly, the late Johannes Jonasson would bring teams to compete for the Icelandair Trophy, and then the late Hjalmur Sigurdson took up the reins and regularly brought wrestlers to compete at Grasmere resulting in some memorable bouts . In 1999, when Carlisle hosted the European Championships, a group of Icelandic girls came along also, and for them new events were put in place which foreshadowed the present move towards more female classes.

With the death of Hjalmur, the links became less frequent, but this year a new initiative has been launched by Olafur Oddur.

He wrote : I have been thinking about glima and back-hold,  and the possibility we have to make it stronger. I think that it would be very good for us to have more  cooperation and for us to visit you and compete in back-hold. I  would like to ask you a few questions which  I have been thinking of lately. Is it possible that we might organize 7-10 days of competition and training to you  2010 or 2011. As we compete in some tournaments, maybe have some glima Performance  and get a chance to practice back-hold under your guidance. Is it poosible to have national competition  between England and Iceland maybe  also  Scotland , for example 17-20 years old 4-5 in each team. Is it possible to  get one person from England to come to Iceland maybe next spring to teach back-hold (over one weekend). This is my personal thoughts  that I have not worn under the board of Gli yet, but wanted to ask you before we go any further.  I have great confidence that cooperation between these countries has a positive impact on our Sports. With best regards, Ólafur Oddur.

Nothing but good could come from such contact. We know how much the Breton wrestlers add to our sport at the end of August. The Icelanders could do the same.

Meanwhile, back home our wrestlers will be in action on Sunday after hibernation.

Sunday 2nd May 12.30pm Hethersgill Vintage Society at Carlisle Airport U12/U15/U18/Ladies Open/12½/AW.

Saturday 15th May Northern District YFC Field Day at The Square, Kirklinton

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

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