Country Club Tug Of War team had their most successful World Championships ever, with their pullers claiming three golds, a silver and a bronze at the County Antrim based event last week.

The Irvinestown based club competed against participants from as far afield as Chinese Taipei and the Basque Country, gathering a staggering haul of trophies and medals at the prestigious championships.

The club took to the top step of the podium for the 600kg Open and Closed competitions, as well as the 560kg Closed tournament. They claimed second in the heavier 640kg pull, but failed to retain the one world title they had claimed last time around, taking bronze in the 560kg Open competition.

“We couldn’t have asked for much more,” admitted coach Sean Colton.

“It was a very successful week, and we have a rake of cups and medals to show for it. The most we ever did before was a gold and a silver in two different weight classes.

“In the last two we got gold in 560 and a silver in 600, so we have done a good bit better. The two golds in the Open and Closed has never been done before. I don’t think Northern Ireland has won a 600 in the worlds, and certainly never won an Open and Closed weight at the worlds.

“We would have expected to have done better in the 560 Open on the second day because we were the current world champions, but the fact we had already won the 600 and then went on to win the 600 Closed the day after made up for it.”.

The tournament was played out over four days, with the local pullers contesting one event each day before competing twice on the final day of competition.

Day one of action was the 600kg Open and they got the better of the Basque team Beti Gazte in the final to claim their first medal of the week.

The following day the team had high hopes of retaining their 560kg Open title but after getting through the group in second spot, they lost out in the semi final to the same Basque club they had defeated in the final the previous day, before winning the bronze medal play off against a team from the Republic of Ireland.

Day three was the first of the Closed competitions and the first event in which the club were representing their country. They struck gold again, defeating another Basque team in the final of the 600 kg competition. The 640kg Closed event followed, and despite being well under the target combined weight they emerged from the group in third and defeated Scotland in the semi final, eventually losing out to Ireland in the gold medal contest.

Six of the pullers were then taking part in the final contest, the 560kg Closed event. They defeated Chinese Taipei 2-0 in the qualifying rounds, before dispatching the Basque Country in the final to complete their medal haul.

Coach Sean Colton was delighted with the team’s performance, but admitted they had been pushed to their limits.

“You physically couldn’t have done any more,” he conceded. “Each competition was taking three to four hours and it was some of the longest pulls we have ever had. Some of the pulls against the Basque Country were over five minutes, which wouldn’t be normal. Normally two and a half minutes would be a good pull, but we were expecting it and we had trained for longer pulls.

“It was a good competition for us. The Basque teams were very strong. They had over 120 pullers from their region, and we seemed to be meeting them in the semi finals or the finals nearly every time. There was a lot of sore feet and sore hands.

“Men with holes in the hands and cuts on the back and their sides, with the constant pressure from the rope. Our training worked out fairly well though and we did as much as we could do.”

Even before the trophies have found their new home in the club’s trophy cabinet, Sean’s thoughts have already turned to the next World Championships, taking place in less than a years’ time.

“Preparation has to begin again now for Sweden in 11 months’ time!”


Get a treat with our March sale - £3 for three months digital subscription. Click here to subscribe