IRELAND'S Kettlebell athletes put in a stunning performance at the European Kettlebell Championships in St Joseph's Centre in Bishopswater over the weekend.
The team, mainly comprising Wexford athletes, won a total of 12 medals and almost got a 13th with a great performance by 16-year-old Marcella Furlong, who competed against the over-18s.
Marcella was the youngest athlete, with the honour of being the oldest going to 68-year-old Estonian Heino Toldoja.
Ireland, with 27 members, was one of the smaller teams in the competition, compared to the mighty Russians who fielded 70 competitors.
Despite this, the Irish team punched well above its weight, capturing a clutch of gold medals.
Golds were awarded to Collette Butler, Catherine Roche, Sandra Goodison, Paul Hillis, Jason Giltrap, Mick Kelly and Keith Dwyer. Silver medals were won by Keith Dwyer, Mick Carthy, Clara O'Connor and Paul Kelly.
Rose Flynn took a bronze medal.
Not surprisngly the Russians took the top team honours, with Kazahkstan and Latvia second and third.
Mick Kelly, the Irish team's coach and development officer, said it was a fantastic event that was 'hugely supported' by the people of Wexford, who turned out in large numbers at St Joseph's.
'People from all over Europe came to our town and were given a great welcome,' he said.
The competitors were honoured by the town with a civic reception hosted by Mayor Cllr Jim Allen.
'It was a great promotion for the sport and for Wexford and we now have the possibility of holding the world championships in a couple of years' time,' said Mick.
'We are only a new nation in the sport and the European teams were very impressed with how organised and advanced we were,' said Mick.
He said kettlebell clubs were springing up all over Ireland, with Wexford currently the biggest.
Anyone interested in finding out more can contact Mick at 086 2621488.