AN international club competition at Kruibeke in Belgium at the weekend saw 11 members of Middleton and Wirksworth Freestyle Wrestling Club in competitive action.
Jack Lawley was first into action and, wrestling in the 58kg schoolboys category, his first opponent could quite easily have been the oldest looking schoolboy the club has ever seen, sporting a full beard and heavily tattooed.
The French wrestler might have been more at home in the over 20 age group and in this case of man against boy, to the joy of his coaches, it was the Wirksworth boy who came out on top, winning in two rounds and showing no signs of losing this competition.
With Katy Colebourne and Abbi Lawley present but out with injuries, it was left to 66kg Eric Walker to follow Jack’s example.
Unfortunately, Eric’s first opponent had the attitude and body shape of a rhino and Eric could not break him down, losing by a pin.
Jack and Eric continued to fight well against much bigger opponents but both managed a very respectable fourth in a particularly hard competition.
Max Walker (38kg) and 35kg James Colebourne were left cursing their slow starts after losing the first bouts, but later came into fine form to take excellent silver medals.
After dominating her first day of qualifying, 34kg Harriet Phillips had a ferocious battle in the final with both girls shedding tears and sweat, neither reluctant to give the other the edge as they went point for point right down to the wire, with the German girl pipping the Dales lass to gold.
Lewis Brown (26kg) put in a fantastic display of wrestling to make the final, but it wasn’t enough to beat the superiority of his Russian challenger, though it was enough to earn him the nod for the coach’s wrestler of the competition.
41kg Brandon Harrison did well to even wrestle on the last day after picking up a sickness bug, the M&W favourite showing great determination in a fight he could have won had he been match fit but had to settle for a silver.
A couple of defeats for the ever-improving Shaun Thorpe (37kg) meant he came back with bronze but with a little more consistency it could have easily have been gold.
A fired-up 25kg Thomas Phillips suffered his first defeat in 18 months and another followed in a very tough group. A little knocked back at the aggression of the former Eastern bloc countries, he pulled himself together and fought to the standard expected of him to take home a bronze.
Amy Doxey (48kg) had to settle for bronze after a shoulder injury finished her title hopes on the first day.
But it was sister Megan who took full honours and the club’s only gold in the 70kg and, after being on a high, decided to chance her luck with a friendly match. However, the five-year age gap against a Dutch champion was not close enough to finish off her first perfect trip to Belgium.
Overall, there was some fantastic wrestling at a great competition which, on the whole, was dominated by the superior Russian wrestlers but, in the words of coach Kev Lawley: “It doesn’t get much tougher than this. That’s why we’ve come and that’s why we will be back again next year”.
The club would also like to thank John from the Lime Kiln, who supplied the kids with new kit and part-funded their recent international jolly.
With no time to rest, the club will be back in action this weekend in the Southern Region Open Tournament in Bristol.