Wormit travel writer wins National Geographic award

A Wormit travel writer’s work has been featured in National Geographic, after her report of women’s wrestling in Bolivia won a national competition.

Sarah Gillespie visited the city of La Paz last year, during a five-month trip through South America. It was at this time that she first heard about ‘cholita wrestling’.

The phenomenon, which sees indigenous women facing off against each other, started off as a way to support victims of domestic abuse but has now grown into a tourism attraction.

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“The experience is super cheesy,” said Sarah. “It’s like a WWE sort of wrestling, really scripted, good guy, bad guy.

“But it’s so bizarre because of who they are.”

While there was some crowd participation, Sarah felt no urge to step inside the ropes, although she did ask for a headlock from one the stars at the end so she could have her photo taken.

Sarah, who had previously taken part in a National Geographic writing masterclass, entered the writing competition for the magazine when she returned, detailing the experience of attending the show and explaining the background of ‘cholita wrestling’ – and, to her surprise, she won.

“It was complete shock, amazing,” she said. “It was incredible to get that recognition so early on in my career.

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“Working as a freelancer, there is no one to give you feedback. I’ve had articles published, but to get the recognition was such a huge thing for me.”

Sarah’s prize for winning the competition is an eight-day trip to southern Africa in December, which will take her to Namibia, Zambia and Botswana.

Sarah already writes for airline magazines and the website Culture Trip, and can now add National Geographic to her resume, as she continues to build a reputation in the travel writing world.

The 29-year-old had previously worked in London in a different job, but decided to move to Wormit and give up the 9-5 life, focusing on something that brought together two things that she loves – travelling and writing. Her next work trip will be to Riga, Latvia, for a women in travel summit.

To read Sarah’s work, visit her website – www.sarahjcgillespie.com.

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