One of Cowal Highland Gathering’s most traditional and keenly contested competitions is to boast a new level of international rivalry.
For the last few years, the hugely popular heavy athletics disciplines have featured competitors not just from the UK but also Iceland and Germany – each of them battling it out to be crowned champion both in the individual events and overall.
This year, however, Gathering organisers have brought in a new international team competition - with each athlete’s individual score counting towards their team’s total.
The new format will see three teams competing in the heavy athletics: Scotland, Germany and Iceland. Each team will consist of four athletes - three men and one woman - all of whom will take part in the usual individuals’ contests.
The points scored by each person will go towards the team total, and at the end of the Gathering Saturday (August 27) the team with the highest total will be crowned International Heavy Athletics Champions and be presented with a glittering new trophy.
CHG chair Ronnie Cairns said the innovation would add an extra level of rivalry to what is already one of the most spectacular and physical annual attractions.
“Anyone lucky enough to have seen our heavy athletes in action in the past will know that they don’t leave anything in the tank. The sheer physical effort they put in is breathtaking,” he added.
“Their goal in the past has been to go home as Cowal champion both in their individual events and in the overall competition. This year, however, they will have two goals – to leave Dunoon not just with the individual silverware, but also with the new team trophy.
“The international rivalry is sure to lend some added spice to what is already an extremely hard-fought competition. The three teams look pretty evenly matched, so it’s virtually impossible to predict which country becomes our inaugural International Heavy Athletics Champions.
“I’m obviously slightly biased, but I’m hoping the support of the vast majority of the crowd – which is always in fine voice – might swing it in Scotland’s favour but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Last year, the men’s overall competition was won by Heisi Geirmundsson from Iceland, with Scotland’s Kylle Randalls second and Germany’s Daniel Dorrow third.
In the women’s competition, Lucy Marshall from Scotland beat off the challenge of Germany’s Sylvanna Bomholt (2nd) and Scotland’s Laura Gillespie (3rd).
CHG’s headline sponsor again this year is The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC), which has pledged to support the event at least up to and including August 2018.
SSC managing director Craig Anderson said the new International Team competition was a great example of how CHG organisers – in partnership with its sponsors – are constantly looking at ways in which the event can be improved.
“The Gathering must be one of only a few events every year which feature top class athletes from countries such as Iceland and Germany,” he added.
“These international competitors are always great crowd-pleasers, and there are a few favourites who return to Cowal year after year to do battle with the local athletes.
“What better way to thrown some additional heat into the mix than by introducing a team competition with everyone giving 100% for their country as well as themselves. It’s a fantastic idea and we’re all looking forward to seeing who comes out on top.”
This year’s Cowal Highland Gathering runs from Thursday 25 – Saturday 27 August. Cowal Highland Gathering is supported through EventScotland’s National Funding Programme’
For information or to book tickets, please visit the Gathering’s website at www.cowalgathering.com