Local athlete Marc Comeau participated in the 152nd Victoria Highland Games May 18. In his first heavy events competition he narrowly missed first place in the Novice category settling for a hard earned second place finish.
The Heavy Events have been contested at Highland Games for centuries, starting with games set up by King Malcolm III of Scotland to select the strongest men in Scotland to serve as his personal bodyguards. Implements used are those that were in use at that period of history, blacksmith’s weight’s, hammers used for driving fence posts, stones from the local rivers and trees cut down by woodsmen. The Heavy events are a true test of not only strength but also skill and athleticism.
Putting the Stone
Comeau threw 25 ft with the Braemar stone and 28 ft with the Open stone in an event similar to the modern Olympic event of shot putting. In Heavy Events there are two styles, first being the Braemar style – a stone weighing 28 lbs thrown with no approach for distance – and the Open Style – a stone weighing 20 lbs thrown with the option of an approach to gain momentum to further the throw.
Weight for Distance
Comeau threw the 28lb light weight a distance of 43ft and the 42lb heavyweight 28ft. The athlete uses a spinning technique to throw a steel ball and chain with one hand aiming for greatest distance.
Throwing the Hammer
Comeau was able to throw personal bests of 70 ft 6 inches with the 16lb light hammer and 48ft with the 22lb heavy hammer. The Hammer (a weighted head attached to a 4 ft handle) is spun overhead multiple times and released so that it flies behind the athlete. The Hammers are the furthest thrown of all the events.
Weight for Height
Comeau threw a personal best height of 13ft in the weight for height where a 42 lb weight is thrown with one hand overhead for maximum height. This is one of the greatest tests of explosive power in all of the Heavy Events.
In a back and forth battle with the eventual first place finisher Comeau was able to successfully toss up to 21 ft before missing at 22 ft. The sheaf is a 20 pound bundle of straw wrapped in a burlap bag that is tossed vertically with a pitchfork over a raised bar much like that used in pole vaulting.
Tossing the caber
This event was the highlight of the day for Comeau. Having never before attempted the caber he was the only athlete in his division to successfully throw in all three attempts; achieving perfect scores in two of them. A caber which is often mistaken for a telephone pole is a section of a tree that tapers from one end to the other. The athlete attempts to pick up the caber and balance it straight up and down. Once under balance they will start to run and when sufficient momentum is gained attempt to flip it end over end. The caber is not thrown for distance but rather accuracy using the hands of a clock with the goal of the caber flipping and landing straight in line with the direction that was ran, a perfect score being a 12 o’clock.
Hot on the heels of his first competition Comeau’s next will be the 2015 BC Highland Games & Scottish Festival, June 20 at in Coquitlam.