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Top tuggers pull into Bütschwil

The Dutch are among Switzerland's biggest tug-of-war rivals

(Keystone Archive)

The Swiss village of Bütschwil is likely to seem a little short on space this weekend as some of the continent's heftiest athletes gather for the European tug-of-war championships.

Over the two days of competition, teams of men, women and children from 14 European countries will be taking up 40-metre pieces of rope and attempting to out-pull their opponents.

Weight will clearly be an important factor, but fans of the sport insist that strength, stamina and timing are just as essential to victory.

Swiss world champions

The Swiss teams taking part are certainly no strangers to victory, having won gold medals at all six of their chosen weight categories at last year's world championships in England.

Having dominated that competition, though, the Swiss tug-of-war association is warning against complacency in Bütschwil.

"We mustn't let ourselves be blinded by last year's results," insisted association president Robert Schneider, "and we can't afford to underestimate our opponents."

Among the toughest of those opponents are expected to be the teams from the British Isles and Holland.

It's exactly ten years since the European championships were last held in Switzerland. On that occasion, in Stans, the Swiss men won in two of their three categories.

by Mark Ledsom


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