SHANE FENTON reports from THE OLD COURSE HOTEL
Despite a chilly breeze coming in off the sea, the crowds still turned up in good numbers for the 31st St Andrews Highland Games at Station Park. There was an international flavour to the event with hundreds of overseas visitors in attendance.
There was an excellent entry for all events and it was encouraging to see many new competitors sampling the highland games experience for the first time.
The heavy event competition is always popular at the 'Home of Golf' venue and this years renewal was certainly on par with previous years, with competitors from Scotland, England, USA and Poland contesting the various disciplines. Such was the standard of competition the overall points title ended in a three-way tie between the trio of Scott Rider, Sebastien and Lukasz Wenta who had finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the World Championship the previous week at the Loch Lomond Games. Both the 16lb and 22lb shot putt contests were won by Lukasz, who also tied for 1st place in the 56lb for height with Scott, Sebastien and Craig Sinclair. Scott was the victor in the 28lb for distance with Sebastien coming out on top in the caber. Kyle Randalls fine form in the hammer continued with a throw of 132' 4'' winning him the 16lb contest, he was thwarted for the double with Craig Sinclair emerging victorious by a mere 2 inches.
Despite the recent monsoon like weather and the park being used for parking by the Open the running track was in tip-top condition for the athletes who turned out in good numbers. The Open 90 metres handicap which carried a first prize of £200 was run-off in 6 heats, two cross-ties and grand final. The destination of the 1st prize had to be decided by the photo finish camera which showed games debutant Carrie Murdoch, Larkhall AC had held on by a hairs-breadth from Ryan Houten, Cardrona which was a reversal of the placings in the x-tie.
Kyle Potts, Hawick who has been running on the games circuit all week finally got his head in front to win the 200 metres from Kevin Amos, Jedburgh and Liam Halliday, Central AC. Despite running from a reduced handicap for his win 24 hours earlier at Airth, Calum Field, East Kilbride AC made it two wins in two days over 400 metres. Willie Bates, Tullibody stayed on well for 2nd with Jordan Taylor, Hawick who won over the distance at Inveraray earlier in the week in 3rd.
The 800 metres saw Wallace McGown, Sauchie produce probably his best run of the season, battling on tenaciously to land the spoils in 1m 55.81secs from the previous day's Airth winner Willie Bates with Jordan Taylor in 3rd place. The latter, who was competing at his 7th games in 9 days showed no ill-effects by racing to victory in the 1600 metres handicap,
Matthew Turner, Campeltown and Rory Anderson, Hawick who have also had a hectic week filled the minor placings, Turner again finished in 2nd place in the 3200 metres where victory went to the previous days Oxton Games winner Derek Scott, Hawick, Rory Anderson was once again in 3rd place.
The Youth's 90 metres saw victory go to Alex Young, Larkhall AC who had finished runner up at Airth Games on Saturday, the games newcomer clocked 9.80s, the consistent Keiran Halliday took 2nd place with Sean Bates in third. There was local success with Andrew Simpson, St Andrews leading home a big field of 16 runners to win the Youth's 800 metres from Jay Patterson, Hawick and Scott Douglas, Forfar. Patterson went one better in the Youth's 1600 metres crossing the finish line in 4m 42.82 seconds to claim victory from Angus Shea, USA and Sean Bates.
There was some thrilling racing in the cycling events, Dave Mathieson, Newburgh held off the late thrust of back marker Craig Hardie, Dalgety Bay and Paul Gallacher, Kirkcaldy to win the 800 metres handicap. The 1600 metres was one of the races of the day, Craig Hardie, who arrived at St Andrews following a 500 mile round trip to compete at Halkirk Games the previous day where he won 5 races showed exactly why he is backmarker. Aided by the excellent racing conditions, Hardie had the big crowd on their feet as he swept past all his rivals in the closing stages of the last lap before hitting the winning line with only metres to race. The flying Fifer just failed to replicate that performance in the 3200 metres where he had to settle for 2nd place behind Lewis Champion, Braco with Tim Allan, Tomatin in 3rd. It was back to winning ways for Hardie in the concluding Deil tak the Hindmost race. The two Youth's cycle races resulted in a win apiece for Ross Birrell, Carnegie CC and Marco Caira, Markinch.
Despite there being only 4 teams the Tug of War was an enthralling contest for the spectators with Strathardle 'A' emerging winners from Moffat 'A'
Published: 2015-07-26 22:23:16