Northern Ireland Tug of War Champions
Northern Ireland teams travelled to Cesenatico in Italy to compete in the World Indoor Championships. Teams were entered in two weights, 560KG's and 600KG's. Having secured both Gold and Bronze respectively two years ago, the pressure was on to repeat the task and to establish Northern Ireland as a top nation in the sport.
Back to back titles are extremely difficult to achieve in any sport and competition was fierce in both these weights.
Teams from England, Scotland and Republic of Ireland traditionally the stronger nations battled it out in the Round Robin Stages, with teams from Mainland Europe and an emerging force from the Far East.
The 560KG Championships was up first with the boys from Northern Ireland represented by Richhill Club in Armagh. Battling its way through the group stages, losing out only to England.
The competition progressed to become one of the closest fought semi finals and final in World Championship history, with England and Scotland in one semi and Northern Ireland and The Netherlands in the other. What was to follow was unprecedented, it took a total of thirteen ends of tug of war to declare Northern Ireland as the winners, with England and Scotland taking three ends and two no pulls to decide one semi final and three pulls to decide the other. This left England and NI in the final, which again took two ends and three no pulls, with the men from Richill winning through in the end to retain their title.
The 600KGs class was next up for Northern Ireland, with a team drawn from three clubs, Ballyhegan, County Club and Richhill. They battled through the group stages losing out to England and Scotland, but made the semi finals, only to lose out again to Scotland in a first end of over four minutes, one of the longest of the day. Scotland the eventual winners, then took the second end leaving Northern Ireland versus Republic of Ireland in the fight for the bronze, with the Northern Ireland team defeating their neighbours in two straight ends to claim the medal.
Northern Ireland team manager expressed his appreciation for all the time and effort put in by the athletes and coaching staff from the Clubs over what was a long and difficult season of training and weight loss.
He said that the results establish Northern Ireland as one of the top countries in the World, a rare achievement for us in any sport.
560kg team – John Shannon, Aidan Brennan, Johnnie Compston, Leslie Knipe, Alan McWilliams, Jimmy Morton, David Donaldson and Alistar Wilson
600kg team – John Shannon, Adrian Russell, Stephen Hunter, David Telford, Brian Telford, Robert Graham, Mark Veitch and Marcus Hunter