2013 European Championships of the International Federation of Celtic Wrestling (IFCW)

NEWS UPDATE

DATES:
Sunday, 6th May 12.30pm - Hethersgill Vintage Club at Carlisle Airport - U12 / U15 / U18Championship / Girls / 12½ stone / AW

The 2013 European Championships of the International Federation of Celtic Wrestling (IFCW) will be held in Reykjavik in April.

The first Icelandic wrestlers to come to Cumbria probably wore funny helmets and arrived by longboat. They littered the West coast with dialect words, place-names, hog-back tombs, and their blood genotype. Wrestling, also, is supposed to be a Viking import. Certainly there is an enduring tradition of wrestling in Iceland with Glima wrestling regarded as a national sport. A hundred years ago there were still bouts of Back-Spanning wrestling in Iceland with rules almost identical to our style.

In 1986 they were one of the four founding countries to compete in the new European Championships of the IFCW. They reached their zenith in 1991 when they persuaded the IFCW to include Glima wrestling as one of the wrestling styles used in the championships. The highly technical rules gave them a big advantage in the wrestling and a monopoly of judges, but even then the professionals of the Canary Islands pushed them into second place.

After that, and the return to two styles for the Championships, they took little part in the IFCW competitions. However there was a link well established between the Icelanders and us, for their wrestlers came most years to compete at Grasmere, and there was a youth competition between us for the Icelandair Trophy which took place twice in Iceland and several times in England. On one occasion an Icelandic wrestler travelled all the way to Alwinton Show to compete in the All Weights Championship.

In Iceland there was a big rift between those who wanted to be involved internationally, and those who wanted to use the Atlantic as a defensive moat, but now under the Presidency of Olafur Oddur Sigurdsson the modernists lead the way. In 2010 David Atkinson went as back-hold coach to a training camp in Reykjavik, and now the Icelanders are to host next year's championship.

Our participation in the event has dwindled somewhat in the last ten years. From 1986 to 1993 we were three times champions and three times runners-up. The culmination was in 1993 when we were first out of seven countries. Since then we did well in 1999 when we almost won with a team member missing, but the event has been dominated by the Bretons and the Spanish teams.

There are many problems in raising, training and transporting a team for the event, but the Reykjavik Championships in 2012 would be a wonderful challenge for any of our wrestlers: a chance to shine internationally in our own sport in a remarkable country of icecaps, volcanoes, geysers

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (2012)

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