The athletic events at The Montreal Highland Games feature only the very best Scottish athletes. All the participants you will see perform at the Games have been invited based on their track record. Each athlete will compete in seven traditional Highland events:
- Putting the Stone (like a shot putt using a stone in place of the steel ball)
- 56 pound weight thrown for distance and height
- 28 pound weight thrown for distance
- Light Hammer throw
- Heavy Hammer throw
- Sheaf toss
- Caber toss
The athletic events get under way around 10:30am. They will take a short break for the official opening ceremonies at 12:30pm and resume when the massed bands have left the field (around 1:30pm).
For additional information please contact our athletics director, Chris Johnstone. Please keep in mind that entry to these events is by invitation only.
Putting the stone The morning events start with ‘putting the stone’. This is exactly the same as the ‘shot put’ competition seen at track and field events, only a rock is used in place of the steel ball. During all events, the distances of each throw will be announced so you will know who is leading.
56-Pound Weight and 28-Pound Weight Putting the stone is followed by the 56-pound and 28-pound weight tosses. These weights are lead balls on the end of a short chain. The contestant spins around (similar to a discus thrower) and releases the weight. The 56-pound weight toss was actually an Olympic event until the early part of the 20th century. The winner is obviously the one who throws the weight the farthest. The 56-pound weight is also thrown for height. The athlete will stand under a crossbar, swing the weight with one hand between his legs and then throw it over the bar. This is a pure strength event. Each contestant will have three tries at each height and is allowed to ‘pass’ at the lower levels to conserve strength.
Hammer Toss (18 lb. and 22 lb.) The next events are the light and heavy Scottish hammer toss. The Scottish hammer is different than the Olympic hammer in that the shaft is rigid (it is made of rattan, whereas the Olympic hammer is a metal ball on a wire cable). The thrower does not spin around, but anchors his feet to the ground (note the spikes on the boots) and twirls the hammer backwards over his shoulder. The light hammer weighs 18 lbs and the heavy hammer is 22 lbs.
Sheaf Toss This event originated with farmers throwing sheaves of hay into the lofts of barns. As this was a common practice for farmers, it was a ‘natural’ for a strength contest. The ‘sheaf’ used today is a burlap sack stuffed with 16 pounds of straw (a real sheaf would fall apart after a few throws). The contestant will stand slightly in front of the crossbar and toss the sheaf over his head and, hopefully, over the bar. The highest toss wins.
Caber Toss The caber toss is probably the event most associated with highland games. It is usually the one shown in promotional pictures. This is the only event today where distance or height is not considered. The caber is thrown for ‘accuracy’. The caber is a log (preferably cedar) 18 to 22 feet long and weighing approximately 120 lbs. A long caber is much more difficult to toss than a shorter one. The officials will raise the caber with the heavy end up and prepare it for the contestant. He will then pick up the caber and balance it against his shoulder. Once he is comfortable with the balance, he will start to move down the field. When the speed is right he will stop, causing the caber to start to fall forward. At just the right angle, he must give a mighty thrust upward making the caber ‘flip’ over. The official will follow behind the thrower and determine the accuracy of the shot using the ‘clock’ method. A perfect throw is one where the caber has flipped over and the small end is at twelve o’clock in relation to the direction of the run. Each contestant has three attempts at this event.