Lo­cal woman hurt in me­dieval bat­tle

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - ME­GAN GATTEY

A self-de­scribed ‘‘large, poleax­e­fight­ing woman’’ from Up­per Hutt was hos­pi­talised along with about 80 other peo­ple af­ter fight­ing in a me­dieval-style bat­tle in Italy.

Dayna Berghan-Why­man ended up strapped to a stretcher with a drip in her left arm af­ter the Bat­tle of the Na­tions at Santa Sev­era Cas­tle near Rome on the week­end be­fore last.

The Bat­tle of the Na­tions is the world cham­pi­onship in the sport of his­tor­i­cal me­dieval bat­tle, in­volv­ing full con­tact fight­ing us­ing metal weapons and a stan­dard­ised list of rules.

‘‘I had two UK girls on me [fight­ing], and once my hel­met was re­leased from around my neck, that’s when I got a huge mi­graine and lost sight in my left eye. Then I started throw­ing up and they sent me to med­i­cal,’’ she re­counted on a dodgy phone line from the road­side in Az­in­court, France, where the ‘‘Bat­tle Bus’’ she was rid­ing in had pulled over.

Af­ter that bat­tle, BerghanWhy­man was sent to hos­pi­tal in Rome - a 45-minute trip in an am­bu­lance high­tail­ing down the mo­tor­way. ‘‘The speedo got to 170kmh at one stage, so I threw up in the am­bu­lance as well. It was the freaki­est ride ever.’’

Berghan-Why­man has since dis­charged her­self from hos­pi­tal to start the jour­ney to Scot­land, where she will bat­tle again.

‘‘I will have to re­assem­ble all my ar­mour in Scot­land be­cause it was all stripped off me when I got the med­i­cal aid.’’

About 80 peo­ple were hos­pi­talised over the four-day

an­nual com­pe­ti­tion, but Berghan-Why­man said it was im­por­tant to note that more peo­ple were tak­ing part com­pared with pre­vi­ous years.

‘‘Our ca­su­alty rate seems pretty high ... but when you have 700 peo­ple on the field over four days it’s ac­tu­ally not that bad.’’

A lot of the ca­su­al­ties’ in­juries were com­pounded by the fact that it was sum­mer in Europe, and the ar­mour trapped the heat.

Berghan-Why­man has been fight­ing for 16 years, and calls her­self the Lady Beast.

‘‘I’m one of the only women fight­ers. I just look like a short, fat bloke on the field,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m fight­ing with the same weapons as the guys. The only difference is I’m in the women’s cat­e­gory.’’

While Berghan-Why­man is older than many of her com­peti­tors, she is still a wor­thy war­rior.

‘‘I am one of the older fight­ers. I turned 40 this year, but I’ve still got my knees, and I’ve still got my teeth,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m not ter­ri­ble at it.’’

Ki­wis fought in both the women’s and men’s sec­tions, and though they rep­re­sented New Zealand well, Berghan-Why­man said they did not place.

‘‘In an in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment you just take part and do your best,’’ she said.

‘‘But New Zealand punches above its weight. New Zealand sent a small con­tin­gent be­cause we’re a small coun­try.

Her pole axe was smashed to bits and she ended up in hos­pi­tal, but she was still hav­ing the time of her life.

‘‘Here I am, trav­el­ling from Rome to Scot­land and vis­it­ing bat­tle­grounds along the way. Vis­it­ing cas­tles and do­ing stuff that the cas­tles were built for in the first place.’’

The Bat­tle of the Na­tions was the first of two ma­jor bat­tles Berghan-Why­man would put her body on the line for this month, she said. The sec­ond bat­tle, the In­ter­na­tional Me­dieval Com­bat Fed­er­a­tion (IMCF) world cham­pi­onships, was to take place in Scot­land, end­ing on Sun­day.

Asked why two sep­a­rate bat­tles were tak­ing place, Berghan-Why­man said: ‘‘It’s like the difference be­tween rugby union and rugby league - same game, dif­fer­ent rules.’’

Berghan-Why­man would rep­re­sent New Zealand in long sword, pole axe, and sword and shield.

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