Newly-crowned Scottish champion, Eve Robson, is preparing for the World Highland Games Championships in America – and she’s found a handy way to help fund the trip. PETER BARRON explains

AS she prepares for the biggest test of her sporting life, it’s not unusual to see Eve Robson arm-wrestling all-comers in her village pub.

Eve, 20, of Hurworth-on-Tees, near Darlington, was crowned Scottish champion at the Highland Games at the weekend.

But conquering Scotland isn't enough. Next stop for Eve is to represent England in the Women’s World Highland Games Championships, taking place in Oklahoma next month.

And she’s helping fund the trip to America by challenging fellas to arm-wrestling contests – for a £10 stake – on the bar of The Emerson Arms.

“It’s made me a couple of hundred quid already,” smiles Eve, who works part-time serving behind the bar in the pub, known locally as ‘The Emmy’.

“Men think ‘oh, she’s just a girl’ – but they get the surprise of their lives. They take it all in good humour though, and I’m grateful for all the support I’ve had from the village.”

Eve’s clearly not someone to be underestimated, and she can’t wait to try to be the best – bar none – when she competes in the city of Broken Arrow, on September 16 and 17. She’ll be 21 on the second day of the competition and hopes she’ll have extra cause to celebrate her coming of age.

There are eight disciplines to tackle in the World Highland Games: heavy shot put, light shot put, heavy hammer, light hammer, weight over the bar, heavy weight for distance, light weight for distance, and – of course – tossing the caber.

“I definitely feel I’ve got stronger and fitter over the past year. I want to be the best in the world – if not this time, then the next.

“The sport is massive in America, so there’s bound to be a lot of interest, and I can’t wait to get out there and compete,” she says.

The Northern Echo: Highland Games champ Eve Robson

Eve has been powerful right from the start. Her parents, Tim and Karen, recall the time they were having an extension built on their house, and two-year-old Eve started doing pull-ups on the scaffolding.

“We couldn’t believe our eyes, but she’s always had natural strength and a competitive nature,” says Karen, who runs the Stockton-based family business, Henderson Engineering North East Limited, with her brother.

As a junior, Eve started out in gymnastics, and tumbling, before moving into athletics as a member of New Marske Harriers. She competed in running events at first, but throwing took over as her physique developed, and she became part of the Teesside Throwers squad.

She’s competed at county level at shot put, and at English schools level on numerous occasions.

She’s also a powerlifter, with a dead-lift record of 200kg, and men can’t help staring in admiration when she goes through her routine in the gym.

Eve’s coach is legendary Teesside strongman, David Dowson, who is not only a Highland Games veteran, but retired undefeated as world record-holder for chucking a frozen haggis 147 feet.

To be fair, haggis-chucking isn’t a sport that attracts that much competition, but it was David who suggested Eve should try her hand at the Highland Games, and that has become her main focus.

“I laughed at first but decided to give it a go and I’ve loved it ever since,” says Eve.

The family engineering business came in handy for making her a caber, along with other weights and bits of kit, and she quickly made her mark in the sport.

She throws best in the heavier weight categories, and the hammer is her best event, throwing it over 100 feet.

In her first Highland Games competition – last year’s Women’s World Championships in Germany – she came a highly promising fifth.

At the weekend, she became Scottish Champion when she competed in the national championships in North Berwick, winning three of the five events and finishing second and third in the others.

One day, Eve’s professional ambition is to join the police or become a firefighter, and she’d certainly have no problem lifting people from a burning building. However, her focus for now is on putting the shot, hurling the hammer, highland flinging her weights, and tossing the caber.

Whatever the result in Broken Arrow, she’s relishing the fact that the ancient sport is giving her the chance to have fun and see the world. Her mum and dad, as well as brother, Harry, will be there to cheer her on, while the locals back in Hurworth-on-Tees will toast her no matter what.

So far, she's raised around £2,000 towards her training and travel costs, with a generous donation being made by the Hurworth Rogers Charitable Trust. Established after villager, Brian Rogers, left a large sum in his will, the trust is used to support good local causes.

Indeed, part of the trust’s donation has been used to buy Eve’s obligatory kilt, made from the Clan Gunn, which the Robsons discovered was affiliated to the family line.

Back at The Emmy, on the day we popped in for the photo-shoot, Hurworth parish clerk, Peter Allan, was in the bar with friends, and was easily persuaded to chance his arm in a test of strength against Eve.

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Let it be said that Peter is many things – an all-round good egg and community champion – but he’s no athlete. And he’s certainly no match for the would-be Women’s World Highland Games Champion.

“Easy!” smiles Eve as she mercilessly flattens his arm on the bar.