The European Championships in Celtic Wrestling were held in Iceland from 25-27 April, with the English wrestlers enjoying considerable individual and team success.
They wrestled in their own Backhold style and also in the Breton Gouren and Icelandic Glima styles, against strong international competition from Brittany (France), Leon (Spain), Iceland, Scotland, Sardinia (Italy) and Hungary.
The team comprised wrestlers from four of the CWWA Academies and prior to the championships trained over 12 sessions under the expert supervision of Alan Jones and Andrew Carlile. All seven weight categories were covered by the men, most of whom are present or past CWWA champions. Anna Hindmarsh from Rothbury Academy, although only recently turned 16, competed successfully against very skilled and experienced women wrestlers, winning Silver in Backhold and Bronze in Gouren.
Day 1 wrestling in Glima passed without injury and provided the English team with their first four medals. Days 2 and 3 in Backhold and Gouren resulted in the Men’s team becoming European Champions, two points ahead of the Leonese and four ahead of the Bretons. Each and every wrestler contributed to this victory.
62kg: Michael Kirkham took Bronze in Gouren and Silver in Backhold, where he wrestled against the Breton, Thomas Kerebel, voted Best Men’s Wrestler at the end of the championships.
68kg: Andrew Carlile won Silver in Backhold in an outstanding final against the Scotsman, Ryan Ferry, himself a previous CWWA champion. Injury in the Gouren ended Andrew’s hope of a medal.
74kg: Jack Brown very convincingly won Gold in Backhold, only narrowly missing out on Gold in Gouren due to the determined wrestling of Greg Neilson, Scotland.
81kg: Ben Brocklebank was injured early in the Gouren but wrestled next day in a strong group to take Gold in Backhold. Ben was voted Best Men’s Backhold Wrestler at the end of the championships.
90kg: Graham Brocklebank took Bronze in Gouren and Silver in Backhold, against an impressive Leonese wrestler who won Gold in all three styles.
100kg: Jack Hale took Silver in Gouren and Backhold, facing an excellent Leonese wrestler in both finals.
+100kg: Zak Singleton took Bronze in Gouren, wrestling heroically against some very strong and older men. He took Silver in Backhold against the Icelander, Asmunder Asmundsson, a former Grasmere champion.
The English team previously were European Champions 26 years ago in 1993 and a lot has changed since then. In 2019 five of the seven Golds in Backhold were won by ‘offcomers’, so ‘own style’ advantage clearly is no guarantee of victory. The improvement in Gouren was vital to the team’s success, so well done to the coaches and all wrestlers.
Wrestling: HETHERSGILL VINTAGE RALLY at Carlisle Airport, Sunday 5th May. 1.15pm start. Classes U10, U12, U15, U18, Ladies open, 11.5st, 13st, AW.
Point for the season will be given: 1st = 3 points, 2nd = 2 points, 3rd = 1 point
Points are recorded throughout the season and trophies presented at the Wrestling Dinner in November.