Donaghcloney man Richie Gamble has growning up in a family-of-five to thank for retaining his speed-eating champion crown at this year’s Hillsborough oyster festival.
Richie devoured 30 oysters in just 23.2 seconds last Saturday in the Co Down village, although he has admitted since that his win was not without controversy, but he was happy to hold on to the trophy!
The 32-year-old said, “There was nothing between myself and the wee lad I was up against with a few oysters to go. We both shouted we were finished at virtually the same time. The judges ruled he had finished first, but then they spotted two oysters still on his plate. There was one left on mine as well, hidden under a shell. I got it straight into me and the judges declared me the winner. There was a bit of sportsmanship, but the main thing is I retained the title.”
Richie, a teacher at Tandragee Junior High School and former captain at Lurgan Rugby Club, said his rivalry with his younger brother set him on the road to becoming world champion.
He explained, “Derek put in for the speed eating heats last year. He managed it in 40 seconds and I reckoned I could do better. I’d given him a lift down and I persuaded them to let me take part. I beat his time and got through to take on the world champion, The Black Widow, at the festival last year.”
After defeating The Black Widow, a Korean born speed-eater weighing just 98 pounds, Richie was crowned ‘World’s Fastest Oyster Eater 2012’
In terms of technique he said: “You have to keep your head down at the plate and get your hands up and down quickly. I worked up an appetite with a bike ride that morning then practised my technique using chopped up gherkins.”
He continued, “When you come from a family of five, with 10 hands going for mum’s cooking you need to be fast. There’s not as much competition for food now it’s just me and my wife Elaine.”
Over the years the district is gaining a reputation for producing talented competitive eaters with Dromore man Colin Shirlow retaining his Guinness World Record, which he achieved last year for knocking back a whopping 233 oysters in just three minutes.