This weekend, Aaron Neighbour won the Lonach Highland Games, a Games with a history that goes back to the early 1800s and is part of the Glenfiddich Series Championships.
Francis Brebner filed this report with IronMind®.
2009 Lonach Highland Gathering
By Francis Brebner
Both the Lonach Highland Gathering and the Granton-on-Spey Games this weekend attracted thousands of spectators. Both Games were also are part of the Glenfiddich series championships, with the finals held at the Royal Braemar Games on 6 September.
The Lonach Gathering was first established in 1823 and boasts one of the grandest and rarest attractions, the world famous Lonach Highlanders, the last Highland society of its type in the world. These Highlanders are dressed in full traditional regalia, carrying their battle pikes and axes as they march six miles to the Games, stopping along the way at each house for a wee dram before their grand entrance into the Games arena. It is a sight to behold as they receive a warm, hearty welcome from the packed crowd of over 12,000 spectators.
The Games itself was founded by Sir Charles Forbes and is one Scotland’s friendliest Games. TV was on hand to film the Gathering's spectacular attraction for the Gaelic BBC channel, which will be aired later in December. Local residents of Lonach, along with stars such as Billy Connelly and wife Pamela Stephenson with their Hollywood friends, were there to share in the festivities.
Our star lineup of heavy athletes included world champion Aaron Neighbour, along with Craig Sinclair, Stephen Aitken, David Dowson, Sinclair Patience, and Bruce Robb.
The first event of the competition got underway with the 16-lb. hammer, with Craig Sinclair showing great form with an effortless win of 137’ 8”; in second place was Neighbour at 129’ 9” and in third place was Stephen Aitken at 129’ 8”.
In the following event, the 22-lb. hammer, Craig Sinclair aroused the crowds with another graceful throw of 115’ 5” for his second win of the competition, with Stephen Aitkin in second place at 111’ 7” and Bruce Robb in third at 109’ for a new personal best.
The 16-lb. open stone witnessed a very close competition between the top three athletes, with Neighbour taking the win with a putt of 51’ 5”. Robb came in second place at 50’ 2” and Englishman David Dowson took third place at 49’ 6”.
The 22-lb. open stone proved to be another riveting competition, with Robb and Neighbour tying at 42’ 7” for first place on their last attempts, with Dowson in third spot with a respectable putt of 41”.
The 28-lb. weight for distance was won by Neighbour with a throw of 83’ 8”; in second was Robb at 80’ 9”, with Craig Sinclair close behind in third place at 80’ 8”.
In the 56-lb. weight for distance, Neighbour dominated with a winning distance 43’ 5”. In second place was Craig Sinclair with 42’ 5”, and in third place was the young rookie Sinclair Patience with a throw of 38’ 7”. Sinclair Patience, at only 19 years of age, is showing great promise, following in the footsteps of his father, George Patience, who was a former world champion and one of Scotland’s all-time greats.
The caber toss, with a stick 19’ long and 125-lb., was won by Stephen Aitkin with a perfect 12 o’clock toss; in second place was Robb and in third, Neighbour.
The final event of the competition, the 56-lb. weight over the bar, was won by Neighbour at a height of 15’ with Sinclair. Aitkin and Robb tied for second equal at a height of 14’.
1. Aaron Neighbour
2. Bruce Robb
3. Stephen Aitkin
Leading the Glenfiddich Series Championships after ten games are two heavies tied for first place:
1. Bruce Robb & Stephen Aitken
3. Craig Sinclair
4. David Dowson