Team GB Make Tug of War History at 2022 World Games!
Header image credit Dawson Martin / Dustin Massey Studios for The World Games 2022
The World Games have just taken place in the USA, with Great Britain coming away with medals, and with that made some history!
The 2022 World Games this year took place in Birmingham, Alabama, USA after its postponement in 2021 caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The World Games is a multi-sport event held every four years for IOC regcognised sports which are not yet part of the Olympic programme. The first World Games took place in 1981 in Santa Clara, USA and tug of war has been on the programme at all World Games events.
This year, a change to the weight classes saw an even distribution of male and female competitors, with all three weight classes being held outdoor. The weight classes were mens 640kg, ladies 540kg, and for the very first time at the World Games, a mixed (4 men and 4 women) 580kg competition was held. Each weight category saw the top 6 nations from the 2021 World Championships taking part, so with the best tug of war nations in the World taking part in each weight class, there were no easy routes through for any team to win a gold, silver or bronze medal.
Photo: GB ladies supporting the GB men 640kg team from the stands
The first day of tug of war competition saw the mens 640kg take place and Great Britain were represented in this weight class by Lincoln. Great Britain qualified for the World Games after England won the bronze medal at the 2021 World Championships in this weight class.
The start of the competition was delayed by an hour or so due to adverse weather – a lightning storm – but once this passed, the competition was able to start.
Photo: Team GB mens 640kg team before the start of the competition
GB’s first match was up against the Netherlands, who were silver medallists in 2021, so on paper this was not going to be an easy match. Despite the tough challenge first on, Great Britain secured a good 2 ends to 0 win to get their campaign off to a solid start. GB then defeated Belgium in their second match before losing out to Switzerland by 2 ends to 0 on their third match. GB then picked up for their last two matches in the group overcoming both Germany and Italy by 2 ends to 0.
Photo: Team GB 640kg team in action (image credit: Jelle van der Velde, Netherlands)
GB progressed to the semi-finals where they met Germany. Switzerland and Belgium were the other semi-finalists. In the semi-finals, GB put in another solid performance to take both ends and progress to the final where they were to meet Switzerland. Before the final, there was the matter of the bronze medal, with Belgium putting in a great performance to defeat Germany by 2 ends to 0 to secure their first ever tug of war medal at the World Games.
Onto the final, and GB were up against Switzerland for the third consecutive World Games with Switzerland winning gold in 2013 (Cali, Columbia), and GB winning gold in 2017 (Wroclaw, Poland).
Photo: Team GB vs Switzerland (image credit: The World Games)
On this occasion, it was very much Switzerland’s day as they put in a very strong performance to defeat GB by 2 ends to 0, but it was a silver medal in the bag for GB tug of war.
You can watch the medal matches and medal ceremony on the Olympic Channel.
GB Squad – Aidan Wheeler, Dan Kenny, Lee Robinson, Will Lee, Ian Robinson, Marshall Drew, Pete Sellars, Ian Murphy, Andy Rebori, Richard Keightly, Tony Peck, Coached by Tim Lee.
Photo: Team GB 640kg team with their silver medals
Great Britain were represented in this weight class by Bedford Ladies who were represented GB in outdoor ladies tug of war competition at a World Games for the first time, again after qualifying at the 2021 World Championships.
The first match for GB ladies was against the Netherlands with both teams winning 1 end each to get their first points on the board. GB then followed this up with a 2 ends to 0 win over Germany, then lost 2 ends to 0 to Chinese Taipei, before going 1-1 with Switzerland, and 1-1 with Sweden.
Photo: Team GB Ladies Tug of War Squad
Chinese Taipei topped the group on maximum points, followed by Sweden, with the points being close among the remaining teams, GB finishing on 6 points and Netherlands and Switzerland both finishing on 5 points, but after the criteria was applied, Switzerland progressed.
Photo: Team GB Ladies 540kg team in action (image credit: Jelle van der Velde, Netherlands)
GB were drawn against Sweden in the semi-finals, but it was Sweden who secured the 2 ends to 0 win to make the final. This time, GB had to go into the bronze medal match against Switzerland, and what a battle it was. GB took a good first end to start the semi-final well. On the second end, GB took Switzerland to within a metre of the line only for the Swiss to manage to stop the team and work GB back to level the match. The third and deciding end was another close match which this time went to Switzerland, meaning that GB ladies narrowly missed out on a medal.
The final was won by Chinese Taipei who secured the gold medal with a dominant 2 ends to 0 win over Sweden.
Photo: Team GB Ladies 540kg coach Geoff Hollyhead urging on the GB ladies (image credit: Jelle van der Velde, Netherlands)
GB Squad – Tara Adams, Ella Back, Annette O’Toole, Emma Stone, Charlotte Williams, Lucie Gray, Anna Stone, Talei Peters, Sarah Hookway, Verity Wooton, Coached by Geoff Hollyhead.
You can watch the semi finals, medal matches and medal ceremony on the Olympic Channel.
The final competition was the mixed 580kg competition, which was held for the first time at the World Games. This ended up being one of the most exciting and unpredictable competitions of the weekend, but a great one for Team GB.
Great Britain were represented in this weight class by a combined team from Lincoln and Bedford Ladies.
Photo: GB Mixed 580kg squad at the start of the competition.
Team GB started off with a 1-1 draw with Switzerland first on, and then went down to a disappointing 2 ends to 0 defeat against the Netherlands. The team order on the rope was then changed around and GB got back on track with a good 2 ends to 0 win over current World Champions Sweden. GB then went 1-1 with Germany and then defeated Italy by 2 ends to 0 in the final round. At the end of the group stage, Germany finished top on 9 points, followed by GB on 8 points and then Switzerland and Netherlands finished on 7 points to make the top 4.
Photo: Team GB Ladies Mixed 580kg team in action (image credit: Jelle van der Velde, Netherlands)
In the semi-finals, GB faced Switzerland and dropped the first end. GB then made a substitution as a last roll of the dice. The substitution had a positive impact on the outcome and Team GB took the next two ends to reach the final.
Before the final, the bronze medal match was contested between Switzerland and the Netherlands which the Netherlands won by 2 ends to 0 to secure their first tug of war medal at this edition of the World Games.
Photo: Final whistle - Team GB win gold! (image credit: Jelle van der Velde, Netherlands)
Onto the final, where GB faced Germany. The match between these two teams went 1-1, so it looked as though we were in for a really close and exciting final. In the end, it was a superb display from Team GB who secured a great 2 ends to 0 win over Germany to take the gold medal, making history on the way by becoming the first team to win the Mixed 580kg at the World Games! Congratulations to everyone who made this possible.
Photo: The celebrations continue! (image credit: Jelle van der Velde, Netherlands)
After the competitions had completed, our athletes had the opportunity to relax and support some of the other GB athletes taking part in other sports on the final day of the World Games before taking part in the closing ceremony on the Sunday evening with Lionel Richie being the headline music act.
A massive congratulations to all of our athletes who represented Great Britain at the 2022 World Games – three top four finishes with a gold and a silver medal in the bag against the best tug of war nations in the world is a massive achievement. Tug of war is an amateur sport and we receive no Government, Sport England or UK Sport funding, and we thank all of our athletes for the huge sacrifices made to train, compete and travel to these events to represent our country.
Photo: Team GB ready for the closing ceremony