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Alex Birch

Alex Birch.

The 29-year-old tug of war competitor, from Baslow and a member of the Two Dales Club, where he was part of the team that won a gold medal at the National Championships, having helped them through six events of qualifying.

Alex says: "We are currently competing on the indoor circuit, so we are training indoors on manufactured mats in an agricultural shed near Clay Cross.

"Training consists of mainly pulling a weight up a block to mimic a pull senerio, making it harder by putting more weight on or reducing the number of people or putting people out of their usual position. This trains for power in attack.

"We train for two hours on a Tuesday and Thursday and towards the end of the session we pull 'live' against each other, perhaps four a-side to help train defending, stopping the team from winning.

"The rest of the week we are encouraged to do as much fitness and core training as we want. As we run up to a big competition, I will be running two to four miles twice a week and doing sit-ups, press ups and squats most nights.

This is a world championship season which is every other year for indoor, so it is important to do well at our National Championship in December to gain the right to be asked to represent England.

"The last World Championships in Ireland we competed in the 680kg class and won a bronze medal, although we only weighed 667kg so were underweight slightly. We would like to do the 640kg class this year and diet more weight off the team to get under that limit.

"I would love to do able to win a gold medal one day as I am sure anyone would, but to start with just being asked to rep for your country is brilliant. I have five World/Euro Championship caps at the moment, which have ended with one bronze and two fourth places."