ATHLETES from across the world descended on Darlington as the town hosted its first ever kettlebell competition.

The sport, involving athletes holding weights on handles above and around their bodies, has grown in popularity after a number of celebrities endorsed its bodybuilding benefits.

The competition, held at the Education Village, saw competitors from as far afield as Russia and Denmark take part.

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A team from Darlington, called TU NOVA, did particularly well with every athlete winning a medal.

Seven out of ten achieved personal bests and some qualified for a place in the English national team.

Event organiser Steven Gordon said: “I’ve worked really hard to get this competition to Darlington; it was my chance to bring the sport I love to my home town.”

“The deputy mayor was there as part of the opening ceremony and was very impressed by the turnout out and the quality of the competition.

“The athletes from Russia were highly impressed with the level of lifting in the UK.

“Sergey Rachinsky, a multiple world champion and world record holder, was so impressed with the competition he is already asking when the next one will be Darlington.”

The most outstanding performance of the weekend belonged to Ivan Denisov - absolute world champion and world record holder- who beat teams of five men in the relay by himself using 28kg kettlebells, whilst the others used 24kg.

He completed 251 reps in 15 minutes with no rest whilst the closest team completed 242 with five men changing every three minutes,

Mr Gordon is already planning for another event next year with an even bigger team from Darlington competing.