The reign of Ulster’s oyster-eating king could soon be over with two American professionals shelling out on flights to the Province to mount a challenge.
However, the eight-times world champion is in no mood to clam up and let the stateside pretenders take his crown this weekend.
Colin Shirlow said the arrival in Hillsborough of other competitive-eating record holders won’t distract him from the task in hand.
“I’m really looking forward to this year’s Oyster Festival,” he said.
Commenting on the chances of beating his own record of 233 oysters in three minutes, he said: “I really would love to beat my world record, even by just one oyster. I’m aiming for 234 oysters on Saturday.”
The Hillsborough Oyster Festival has been on the world map for many years and attracts competitors from as far away as Australia, Japan and South Africa.
Tomorrow, the international ranks will be swelled by the larger than life Bob Shoudt – known as Notorious B.O.B. – from Pennsylvania who holds multiple world records, along with the world-ranked Matt ‘Megatoad’ Stonie, from San Jose, California.
Shoudt’s impressive track record includes devouring 39 Krystal hamburgers in two minutes, and 34.75 beef brisket sandwiches in 10 minutes. He is currently ranked fifth in the world’s competitive-eating league by IFOCE (International Federation of Competitive Eating).
Stonie is ranked fourth in the world and also holds many records – including eating 31 Slugburgers in 10 minutes and 5.5lb (2.45 kilos) of birthday cake in just under nine minutes.
Commenting on the high calibre of opposition this year, Mr Shirlow said: “Like all Americans, these guys can talk the talk but can they walk the walk?
“That is the question and I guess we will see how that turns out for them on Saturday afternoon. I’m certainly more than up for the challenge!”
The world champion added: “I know one of them can eat over 500 oysters but that was in 10 minutes.”
Concluding on Sunday, the festival’s packed schedule includes a gala ball, sporting events, a Gourmet Food Market (tomorrow) and a special concert featuring Flash Harry.
More than 12,000 pints of Guinness, 4,000 glasses of champagne and 6,000 oysters will be enjoyed at what is now one of Europe’s leading food celebrations.
For a complete guide to the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival 2013, including online ticket purchases, visit: www.hillsboroughoysterfestival.com