SHOREHAM osteopath Andrew Bellamy has returned from Hamburg, having competed against the best in his sport at the Kettlebell World Championships.
The 56-year-old was one of three Brighton Girevoy Sport Club members in the England squad, competing in the veteran division.
“This competition was the biggest ever held and it was our chance to compete alongside, if not with, the great heroes of the sport,” he said.
Although Andrew did not return to Shoreham with a medal, he did come fourth in his division.
“Emotions spanned relief, excitement, euphoria and then something of a slump, where you wonder why you didn’t do just one or two more reps,” he said.
Assistant coach at the Brighton club, he was joined by teammates Mark Stroud, the coach, and Will Dollar, who both competed in the professional long cycle.
Firefighter Will, 36, from Salisbury won the coveted Master of Sport title and set a new England record for the number of repetitions. He finished fourth in his division and production manager Mark, 38, from Hove came seventh.
The championships took place from November 20 to 24 and overall, the England squad of 12 was placed eight out of 35 countries, bringing home two silvers and a bronze.
Mark said: “To say all three of us are so proud of the chance of representing our country is an understatement. As coach of the team, to have one quarter of the England squad come from Brighton could not make me more proud.
“This is the first time any of us have competed at an international event of this scale. We were lifting among the best on the world and looked forward to this with baited breath and excitement.”
Kettlebell sport, which originated in the former USSR, consists of a ten-minute period of time where the athlete has to complete as many reps as possible without putting the bells down.
Each rep involves lifting either one kettlebell (the snatch), or two (in the jerk or long cycle), kettlebells overhead and in a repetitive rhythmic pattern. It might be described as endurance weightlifting.
A total of 549 athletes were lifting, which Mark described as ‘an immense and amazing spectacle for the sport’.
Andrew added: “The atmosphere was intense with people of all shapes and sizes from across the globe, some known, some yet to become friends.
“It is an amazingly friendly sport and much helped by social media, where athletes share information, training tips and videos of varying technique.
“Men and women compete essentially on the same basis, though not against one another, but the sheer hardness of training, commitment and sacrifice is the same and so there is a bond that is shared across this poorly-known sport.”
He welcomed the chance to mingle with champions past and present, which enabled the Brighton trio to pick up training tips and encouragement.
“The generosity of spirit was marvellous. My real inspiration came from some of the veterans. One I spoke to had been competing for 52 years. Another, born in 1937, is still competing. Slim as a greyhound, he didn’t look in his late 70s and it speaks volumes for the sport and its benefits.”
Mark and Will stepped up to the platform once for the long cycle competition, while Andrew did so twice to complete the two-part veteran biathlon.