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ATHLETIC COMPETITIONS

HISTORY OF THE HIGHLAND GAMES ATHLETIC EVENTS

 

Scottish men have tested their strength against each other at Highland gatherings for centuries.  King Malcolm Ceanmore, who began his reign in 1057, is credited with initiating crude forms of today's Scottish Highland Games athletic competition as a means of improving the abilities of his military.  While the games had become festive occasions by the sixteenth century, they were still seen as a way for kings and chiefs to choose the best men for their retinues.

 

The equipment currently used for the Highland Games has evolved from items locally available to the early Scotsman.  A blacksmith's hammer or a mall for driving fenceposts has become the 22# hammer.  Woodsmen produced the "caber” (gaelic for "tree") for their own event.  Thrown for height and distance were 56# and 28# steelyard weights.  Tossing a sheaf with a pitchfork likely emerged from the agricultural regions.  A rounded riverbed stone made the ideal "c1achneart”, and still does today.

 

Today's Scottish Highland Games athlete combines strength, skill and endurance to compete in these time-honored events.  In the spirit of the affable Scot, the competitors combine the attributes of the athlete with the fellowship of clansmen to promote and perpetuate the heart of the Scottish festival, The Highland Games.  The Scottish athletic events held at these games are sanctioned by Southeast Scottish Amateur Athletics.

The Clachneart or "Stone" Throw (for distance)

This ancient event is similar to the modern day shot put, using a stone approximately 16 to 28 pounds instead of a steel ball.  The stone must be put from the front of the shoulder using one hand only.  Each competitor is allowed a seven-and-a-half foot run-up to the toe-board or trig.  The contestants are judged on the longest of the three tosses.  If the athlete touches the top of the trig or the ground in front of it during his attempt, the toss not counted.

LAHGCF Record-        Braemer Stone 22Lb                        Open Stone 16Lb

Men Amateur              Mike Beech ('15)         34'1"              Matthew Vincent ('08)  50'1.5"

Men Masters               Roger Bynum ('17)      29'6"              Roger Bynum ('15)        39'6"

Women Amateur        Andi Hannigan ('15)   20'6"              Andi Hannigan ('15)      27'10"

Women Masters         Amanda Micka ('17)   21'7"              Denise Boyd ('17)          26'8"

Weight Throw (for distance)

Weight for distance, also known as the weight throw event. There are actually two separate events, one using a light (28 lb. for men and 14 lb. for women) and the other a heavy (56 lb for men, 42 lb. for masters men, and 28 lb for women) weight. The weights are made of metal and have a handle attached by means of a chain. The implement is thrown with one hand using any technique. Usually a spinning technique is employed. The longest throw wins.

LAHGCF Record-        Heavy WFD                                       Light WFD

Men Amateur              Dawayne Lietzan ('03)  34'6"            Matthew Vincent ('08)  68'.75"

Men Masters               Roger Bynum ('17)        36'1.5"         Roger Bynum ('15)       54'0"

Women Amateur        Andi Hannigan ('15)     28'6"             Andi Hannigan ('15)    42'4"

Women Masters         Amanda Micka ('17)     35'.5"            Amanda Micka ('17)    47'8"

Hammer Throw (for distance)

The Scottish hammer, a round metal hammerhead weighing 16# or 22# with a cane shaft, is thrown for distance. The athlete throws the hammer with his back to the trig and the throwing area.  The competitor's feet may not move until after he releases the hammer.  Each athlete gets three throws with the hammer and is judged by his best distance.  Touching the top of the trig or the ground in front of it renders the throw foul.

LAHGCF Record-        Heavy WFD                                       Light WFD

Men Amateur              Matthew Vincent ('08)  93'1.5"         Mike Beech ('15)          97'9.5"

Men Masters               Roger Baar ('17)            75'5"            Roger Baar ('15)           91'7"

Women Amateur        Andi Hannigan ('15)     44'5""           Andi Hannigan ('15)    56'10"

Women Masters         

Caber Toss

The centerpiece of the modern Highland Games, the caber requires strength, balance and timing.  The caber is a tapered log approximately 19 feet long and weighing 100# to 130# (These weights and measures vary at different games depending on the field of athletes and the terrain).  The athlete hoists the caber and folds his hands under the end while cradling it against his shoulder.  Gaining the balance of the upright caber, he will run briefly with it to gain momentum for the toss.  Followed by field judges, the competitor heaves the caber up and over to ground its heavy end and let it fall forward.  The field judge will ascribe a "score" to the toss.  If the caber is "turned" it will be scored with its final position relative to the face of a giant clock, 12:00 being a perfect score.  If the caber is grounded but doesn't turn, it is scored by the degree it rose from the ground.

LAHGCF Record-        Caber Toss                          

Men Amateur              Mike Beech ('15) 

Men Masters               Bobby Douglas ('15), James Love ('15), Roger Bynum ('15)

Women Amateur        Leigh West ('17) 

Women Masters         Amanda Micka ('17)

Sheaf Toss (for height)

Using a three-tined pitchfork, the athletes hurl a 16# burlap bag stuffed with straw over a horizontal bar raised between two standards.  Each competitor is given three opportunities to clear the bar.  After all attempts, the bar is raised in one to two foot increments. The continually rising bar reduces the field as competition continues until all but one athlete are eliminated.

LAHGCF Record-        Sheaf Toss                         

Men Amateur              Jeff Baty ('08)              28'0"

Men Masters               Roger Bynum ('15)      23'0"

Women Amateur        Andi Hannigan ('15)    16'0"" 

Women Masters         

Weight Toss (for height)

The objective of this strength event is to toss the 56# weight with attached handle over a horizontal bar of variable height.  The starting height of competition is the lowest agreed upon by the competitors. Once a competitor starts to throw, he must compete each time the bar is raised. Using only one hand, each athlete is allowed three attempts to clear the bar at each height. If the weight touches the bar on its way over but doesn't dislodge it, it remains a successful toss. All measurements are made from the ground to the top of the bar midway between the uprights. As the bar is raised, the field of athletes is reduced. This event continues until all competitors but one are eliminated.

LAHGCF Record-        Sheaf Toss                         

Men Amateur              Jeff Baty ('08)              28'0"

Men Masters               Roger Bynum ('15)      23'0"

Women Amateur        Andi Hannigan ('15)    16'0"" 

Women Masters         

The Texas Celtic Athletic Association is a Texas-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

TCAA values strength. Strength of mind, spirit, resolve, as well as body. TCAA and its members will have the strength of mind to dedicate themselves to their causes, the strength of spirit to lift up those in need, the strength of resolve to never abandon what we help to build, and the strength in our bodies to honor the Celtic athletic tradition. Visit their website at www.txceltics.org