The feisty Bourne Bombshells could not have been closer to victory in their hometown tournament last weekend, losing by one point in a thrilling finale.
The town’s resident roller derby team hosted the UK’s only free outdoor roller derby tournament at Eastbourne Extreme on Saturday and Sunday, welcoming teams from across the country to the Sunshine Coast.
While this was the tournament’s second year, it was the first time the host team had taken part, with the Bombshells battling it out for the trophy against teams from Surrey, Basingstoke and Peterborough.
On a sizzling Saturday at Royal Parade, the Bombshells donned their quirky clothing, skates and wealth of protective gear to open proceedings with a bout against Basingstoke.
Hot on the heels of their victory in Belgium, the Bombshells were confident and this showed with a resounding 105-32 win over their visitors - the biggest victory margin of the day.
Their remaining two bouts were a lot closer; a meeting with Mean Valley - a team based in Nene Valley, Peterborough - saw the lead see-saw throughout but the visiting side eventually triumphed 64-58.
Despite the loss, the Bombshells went into their third bout with Surrey Roller Girls knowing they would have to lose by 60 points or more to miss out on a place in the final.
It didn’t quite go to plan at first, with Surrey taking an early 28-4 lead. However, the Bombshells battled back to level the scores at 37 all and take a narrow lead with just two jams left - a margin they held on to come the end of the bout to edge a 53-52 victory.
Their opponents in the final were to be Mean Valley, who also won two and lost one of their three bouts.
The final was the most thrilling match-up yet. Despite losing to Mean Valley earlier in the day, the Bombshells stormed into a 34-0 lead and continued to dominate until a power jam in favour of the visitors propelled them ahead 60-57.
In the latter stages, the lead changed hands every few minutes, until it boiled down to the final jam. The Bombshells went into it with their noses in front 91-87 but Mean Valley dug deeper to sneak into a 93-92 point lead when the final whistle blew and snatch the victory.
In front of the Mayor of Eastbourne and a crowd that had steadily increased throughout the day, trophies were handed out and congratulations and thanks exchanged.
While the skating was fierce, the sportsmanship and spirits were excellent throughout the day and that continued from the track to the sea as teams cooled off with a late afternoon dip.
Bombshells captain Lois Carpenter said, “Roller Derby has this huge struggle with credibility as a sport, so being given the opportunity to showcase what we do at an extreme sports festival really is invaluable for the whole roller derby community.
“As always, it was a pleasure to host everybody who was involved and we can’t thank everyone enough for their support.
“We were a little disappointed to miss out on the trophy by just one point but given how successful the whole weekend was, and how far the Bombshells have come since last year, we all still feel like winners!”