Samantha helps bring medieval silver to Spain

Spain's silver-winning women's medieval combat team, with Samantha bottom left, in Turin, Italy.
Spain's silver-winning women's medieval combat team, with Samantha bottom left, in Turin, Italy. / THE MEDIEVAL THINGS
  • A local girl makes Malaga proud as the Spanish women's medieval combat team return triumphant from an international competition in Italy

Costa del Sol-born Samantha Chapman clashed in combat alongside team members in the annual Dij Cossot Buhurt tournament held outside Turin in July.

Tension was high as the crusaders travelled back to medieval times, warring against rivals to bring home the silver medal. Spain revelled in success, as the men's team, Urna Sur, also triumphed, conquering all teams except one to bring home silver: Spain's first international medal.

Dij Cossot Buhurt was Samantha's first taste of competing internationally. "To get a silver medal was pretty amazing for us," she tells SUR in English. Live action roleplay of medieval battles made the Italian town come alive, Samantha explains, but remembers, in the same breath, to make a distinction between the two: "Roleplay is not what we do. What we do is actually a sport," she is quick to clarify. "It is very easily confused."

The 29-year-old from Mijas first tried medieval combat two years ago with her boyfriend, whose "lifelong dream" was to jump on the battling bandwagon. The trial period got her gripped. "It is an intense sport, it's not for everybody. It's very claustrophobic and hot," Samantha says, although she is not one to shy away from the challenge.

Medieval combat can be ruthlessly "unforgiving towards your body", and so Samantha stresses the need to condition her ligaments to her armour's weight. Training in the two months leading up to a tournament is intense, and Samantha follows a strict regime of running, boxing and exercising with her armour on, with a bit of dodging practice on the side. The Almodóvar del Río Castle in Cordoba province is the backdrop to many of the team's training sessions.

Samantha, who works as a project manager for a software development company, is no stranger to physical exertion, however, having earned gold in the Andalusian Taikwondo Championship back in 2017.

Emphasis on teamwork is what differentiates the sports; Taikwondo is a "very solitary sport. Everybody gets in the zone and they don't want to talk with anybody else", whereas Samantha describes her medieval combat team as her second family. Were it not for the women's dedication, camping trips together would involve more laughs than training, and the supportive relationship extends onto the battleground; despite healthy rivalry, even the male teams "all got together to cheer on the girls" in Italy. "It really makes you feel like you're part of something."

Nevertheless, medieval combat is not free from drawbacks. Funding is troublesome and starting the sport comes at a cost; a full kit of armour could strip your pocket of anything up to an extortionate 2,600 euros.

The situation in Ukraine and Russia, where championing combatants are recruited from the young age of five, is a country mile away from that in Spain, where medieval combat is still not recognised as an official sport, and securing sponsors proves another battle to beat. In Spain, "We do it out of enjoyment," says Samantha.

As in other sports, female participation can also regrettably be a struggle, and Samantha's team in Turin was an amalgamation of women from across Andalucía and Madrid, and it even borrowed a combatant from the Czech Republic. Raising awareness and attracting more women to the sport is next on Samantha's list.

The plated winners are not ones to rest on their laurels, and Samantha assures SUR that after a week of "chilling", Andalucía's female warriors will be back on their feet.

The Spanish national tournament this autumn is the next fence to hurdle, but much of their training will be focused on vanquishing all at the IMCF (International Medieval Combat Federation) World Championship next year.

Held in Barcelona, the tournament promises to be a "huge event for Spain", and particularly for Samantha's women's team: "It is going to be amazing because there hasn't been a girls' team in two or three years."

The women's intrepidity is impressive. "We've proved ourselves in Italy, so all of us are really pumped to do the same in the international one," says Samantha.

Gold in Barcelona is not out of the question and the message seems to be "Warriors watch out".