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Red Deer Highland Games celebrate 76 years

The games were in Springbrook on Saturday
Calgary’s Justin Wishart competed in the heavy athletics at the Red Deer Highland Games on Saturday in Springbrook. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

There is no doubt that heavy athletics was a major draw for those in attendance at the Red Deer Highland Games on Saturday.

Central Albertans gathered at Harvard Business Park in Springbrook to take in the action that featured athletes from all over Canada and even the United States.

The event, which celebrated its 76th year, consists of eight different events that require both power and strength.

All participants compete to see who can throw the farthest in eight different events and the winner is determined on a cumulative score. At the end of the day, the lowest point total will be deemed champion.

Those events include different weights of Caber Toss, Stone Put, Hammer Throw, and weight over bar.

Calgary’s Rob Young is no stranger to the Highland Games.

He first began competing in 2008 and for the last 15 years has competed in many competitions in Canada, the U.S., and Scotland. He’s also the Canadian Caber champion for the last three years and a top three thrower in Canada for the last six years.

“The best part is the people you throw with and compete with on the field,” Young said. “And also the fans. It’s cool to have people cheer you on.”

This year he decided it will be his last season of competing after a long career.

“The body is starting to fall apart a bit so it’s time,” he said.

“The game is more than strength. You’ve got to just practice the technique. Sometimes you hit your technique and sometimes you don’t.”

Before the Highland Games Young competed in track and field at the University of Calgary. His friend who he competed with introduced him to the Highland Games and Young’s been involved ever since.

Also competing on Saturday was Calgary’s Justin Wishart who has been involved in the sport for seven years.

Wishart first discovered the Highland Games as a way to stay in shape but also as part of his family heritage.

The Red Deer Highland Games are his favourite competition of the season because it was the first one he took part in seven years ago.

“There’s a whole bunch of different techniques to the games and so I appreciate the technical side of trying to perfect it,” he said.

“But I also like that these guys and girls become your friends. I like seeing them every year… It’s like getting together with old friends and having a good time.”

The Red Deer Highland Games celebrate Scottish and Celtic culture and in addition to the heavy athletics there were plenty of other activities for families to enjoy.

These included piping and drumming competitions, Highland dance demonstrations, a Celtic market, sheep-dog demonstrations, and more.

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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