Months of a punishing training regime paid off for a Scalford-based tug-of-war team when they brought home a bronze medal from the World Games.
The Lincoln Tug of War Club, which has been based in the Melton village for more than 10 years, won the men’s 700kg bronze in Poland.
The World Games is the highest level of competition for an array of non-Olympic sports, many of whom are awaiting inclusion in the Olympics.
With only the top six countries at last year’s World Championships in Sweden eligible to compete in Wroclaw, Lincoln secured qualification for Britain by finishing third out of 30 teams.
Head coach Tim Lee said: “It is a huge achievement for the club to represent Britain on the world stage and win a medal.
“The World Games only comes around every four years and is the next best thing on from the Olympics.”
Lincoln got off to a flying start by defeating Belgium, and then tied 1-1 with Germany and the Netherlands before beating Sweden.
Only defending champions Switzerland inflicted defeat on the British team in the group stages as they booked their place in the last four.
Lincoln were anticipating a close semi-final against the Netherlands after sharing the spoils in the group stages, but the eventual champions got the upper hand to send Britain into the bronze medal match.
Confident after a good performance against Belgium in the group stages, Tim’s troops put their semi-final disappointment behind them to dominate and take the bronze medal by two ends to none.
“Everyone was disappointed not to get to the final,” Tim added. “But the Netherlands were world champions four years ago and turned it on a bit in the semi-finals.
“We went to the event hoping for a medal after past experience in European and world competitions and were happy with the bronze.”
Tim trained teams in Melton before taking over at the world-renowned Lincoln club in 1992, and his son William has represented the club for the last 14 years.
He relocated the club to his home village more than 10 years ago, with team members travelling to their Ironstone Lane training base from as far afield as King’s Lynn and Stoke-on-Trent, three times a week.
The preparation of the team and dedicated, professional approach goes way beyond the archetypal image the sport may have in the UK.
“We have been training since January for this,” Tim said. “We won titles at the English Championships in June and most teams take two weeks off afterwards, but we carried straight on.
“Most people in England think tug of war is all about the fat man at the pub, but we are the next most-trained sportspeople to boxers.
“Men have to lose weight to do tug of war and the lads I’ve got are running 50 miles a week on top of training.”
With no funding available, team members have to fork out for all of their costs themselves including travel, accommodation and kit.
Tim believes each man is paying up to £5,000 a year to compete and is appealing for sponsors to ease the financial burden.
He added: “Tug of war is making a bit of a comeback. It was in the Olympics in the 1900s and is trying to get back in, but we don’t get a bean.
“We travel the world to compete on a regular basis and sponsorship with us would go far and wide.”
The next major test for the team in their hectic competition schedule comes at the British and Irish Championships in Scotland later this month before they head to Southport in September to defend their European title.
* If you would like to sponsor the team, call Tim on 07774 734674.