Excitement and drama at Markinch Highland Games

Vlad Tulacek tossing the caber at Markinch Highland Games (picture: Nige Hutchsion)
Vlad Tulacek tossing the caber at Markinch Highland Games (picture: Nige Hutchsion)

​The large crowd who made their way to the John Dixon Park for the annual Markinch Highland Games were treated to an afternoon of thrills and spills and some top quality competition.

In the first of the Highland Games in the Fife calendar there was an excellent turn out of competitors for all the track and field events.

Last weekend saw five different nationalities among the seven competitors in the heavy events.

Vlad Tulacek, Czech Republic set a new ground record in the 22lb shot putt with a throw of 49 feet’ 6 inches’’.

Scott Rider, Dartford made a gallant attempt to break the World 28lb weight for distance record, which was set at Markinch in 2011 with a throw of 95ft’ 10in’’ by Gregor Edmunds.

After winning the competition with a throw of 92ft’ 4in’’ Scott was given a further three throws to attempt the record but agonisingly fell short on each occasion.

There was a thrilling finish and an unfortunate end to the Scottish 8000 metres Grass Cycle Championship, after 26 laps of the track reigning champion Charles Fletcher, Grantown on Spey retained his title by the distance of a wheel from Gavin Shirley, Castle Douglas.

The drama didn’t end there as the Dumfries rider couldn’t stop himself from careering over the ropes and into the crowd where Davy Rae’s Hawick school of runners was sitting.

Along with the rider himself it was young Charlie Rae who took the brunt of the collision, both were treated on the field by the first aid attendants with Charlie going to the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy to be checked over.

A shaken Gavin Shirley didn’t ride in the remaining two races.

There was a photo finish to the close of the Open 90 metres handicap with four athletes flashing over the line in unison, after a lengthy look at the photo the decision went to Daniel Young,

Kelso who edged out last year’s winner Marcus Archer, Aberdeen AC and Tony Daffurn, Airdrie.

One of the track performances of the day came from Rory Muir, Aberdeen AC, in the Open 800 metres handicap, cheered on by his sister Laura the GB and Scottish internationalist he came through from the backmark passing 13 rivals to win in 1:57.12.

Laura who was introduced to the crowd also presented the prize to the winner of the Cumbie Bowers Memorial Youth 800 metres Rory Elder, Alloa.

Outwith the main arena there was good competition in highland dancing and solo piping. The top prize in the pipe band contest which is the oldest in Scotland went to McKenzie Caledonian.

Chieftain for the day was Pipe Major Jim Banks.

The Highland Games are one of Scotland’s biggest cultural exports – with around 80 events welcoming over 150,000 visitors annually, many of them from overseas.

It is worth an estimated £25 million to the Scottish economy. The Games date back over 1000 years ago to Deeside, where the strongest and bravest Clan soldiers would compete against each other.

There will be further Highland Games at the Thornton Highland Gathering on July 7.