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Saturday, 21 September, 2002, 20:56 GMT 21:56 UK
First for Brits in ironing contest
Penny Short Fuse Wilkins, from Leicester, irons a shirt during the water section
The water challenge proved particularly demanding
The British have demonstrated their excellence in a new "sport" - that of extreme ironing - after claiming the gold and bronze medals in the first world championships.

The jubilant Brits beat stiff competition from nine other nations to secure the prizes in the team section of the competition in the village of Valley, near Munich in Germany.

The sport was devised by Leicester rock climber Phil Shaw and combines extreme sports like mountaineering with the mundane chore of ironing.

Winning team (l-r) Matthew Starch, Basket and Phil Steam Shaw
The winning team celebrate their extreme ironing finesse

The three-men GB1 and GB2 teams were part of a 12-stong UK squad competing in Saturday's tournament.

Competitors from as far afield as Chile were tested on their abilities to cope with five ironing tasks on a variety of fabrics and in different environments ranging from rocky to forest, urban and water.

They were judged on their creative ironing skills as well as the quality of the creases in the clothing, which included tea towels, T-shirts and boxer shorts.

Scafell Pike

The British team had been preparing for the championships in different locations including Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon.

They were keen to secure the winning prize, which includes a holiday in Hawaii, washing machines and other household goods.


I never imagined in a million years that five years after having had the idea, we would be here

Phil "Steam" Shaw, inventor

Early on in the contest James "Basket" Ireson, a 24-year-old engineer also from Leicester, impressed the judges with a spectacular effort on the rocky section, which involved hanging upside down with his ironing board using ropes and a pulley mechanism.

But he ran into trouble on the water section and his plans to iron a shirt from the roof of a car were scuppered.

Pile of washing

Phil "Steam" Shaw, the Leicester IT administrator who invented the sport after coming home one night to a pile of washing, said he was staggered by the way it had developed.

"I never imagined in a million years that five years after having had the idea, we would be here," he said.

A competitor irons from the back of a car
One daring press in a car ended in injury

He later gave an exemplary performance on the River Mangfall, which started with him paddling a giant rubber ring, ironing board perched on top, with goggles for protection.

He gave a rousing rendition of God Save the Queen as he floated past spectators.

There was drama at the urban section when a member of the Dash washing powder German squad, who earlier ironed on a surfboard, was injured.

Attempting a daring press on a car, he fell through the glass of the hatchback's window and had to be treated for cuts by paramedics.


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21 Sep 02 | England
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