WHEN Alan Milne speculatively attended an arm wrestling taster session 10 years ago he never dreamed he would one day be taking on the best in the world – and beating them.
But earlier this month, Alan, of Blunsdon, took home a bronze medal at the Armwrestling World Championships in Gdynia, Poland after being included in a 15-man Team GB squad.
The 53-year-old battled against opponents from all over the world to bring the medal home.
“I don’t think it settled in until some time later,” said the team leader at Catalent Pharma Solutions in Swindon.
“When I first went out there I didn’t think I didn’t have too many expectations, but after winning my first couple of wrestles I began to think it was a possibility.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to have won it. It means a lot.”
Performing in front a large crowd, Alan overcame 14 other opponents in the under-90kg Grand Masters division to come out in third place. He competed for two days, having to use a different arm on each day.
He was awarded the medal on a podium, something which a decade ago would never have crossed his mind.
Alan said: “I’ve been arm wrestling for about ten years.
“Julien Cini, the former British champion, was holding an open day locally for people to come along and find out a bit about the sport.
“I went a long with a friend just to see what it was about and now here I am. When I started out I never thought for a second I would go this far.
“It’s a great sport. I’ve travelled all over the place and it’s a close knit group so I’ve made some good friends.”
It may not be the most supported sport in the country, but Great Britain enjoyed a degree of success at the championships.
As well as Alan’s bronze, the 15-man team also picked up a gold and a silver, in a tournament of more than 1,200 competitors.
While many hold the misconception that armwrestling simply requires arm strength, Alan says it requires many skills and overall fitness.
To reach his current standard has required years of training and many hundreds of hours in the gym.
Alan said: “You need an overall core strength throughout your whole body as well as skill and technique.
“It isn’t just about using your arm to push the opponents down.
“Normally we do two gym sessions each week and then two sessions on the table each week. This drops to one table session a week before big tournaments because of the recovery time needed.”
Despite his success, Alan already has his sights set on gold at next year’s championships in Lithuania.
“I still have things I can improve on and with every wrestle you learn something new,” he said.
“I think with more training I can certainly go for a higher medal. First though I have to qualify through the British Championships.”
If anybody would like to take up the sport, Alan or any of the UK’s leading arm wrestlers can be contacted on the country’s leading arm wrestling forum at rossendalearm wrestling.co.uk.