AROUND 3000 people attended Halkirk Highland Games on Saturday and generated £9000 in gate takings – but that was down about £3500 on last year’s record total.
The intermittent heavy showers of rain throughout the afternoon were blamed by the organisers for the smaller crowd.
Treasurer Neen Banks estimated there were around 1000 fewer people at Recreation Park compared to 2011 but, despite the reduction in numbers, he was pleased with how well the games had gone.
"We’re delighted with the figures considering the weather," said Mr Banks.
"I would say this has been one of the worst days we have had weather-wise in all the time I have been involved with the
games but we have still had a good crowd and a good day overall."
The conditions also contributed to fewer international heavy competitors taking part – but there was no shortage of drama and incident.
There was an unfortunate accident involving two cyclists when the 2000-metre race was under way.
Paul Gallagher, from Kirkcaldy, slipped and went down and Thurso’s Alan Clark collided with him and went over the handlebars of his bike.
Both men were hurt and received first aid but Gallagher was able to continue after missing a couple of races. Clark was said to be shaken by the incident and, sadly, for him the crash put an end to his day.
Top Scottish cyclist John Paul was back in his native Caithness with mother Elaine and father John for a few days’ break.
He took part in the games for "a bit of fun" but only entered one race – the 800m in which he finished fourth behind winner Evan Oliphant from Wick, Craig Hardie from Dalgety Bay in Fife, and Lewis Oliphant from Wick.
Speaking to the Courier afterwards, 19-year-old John explained it was the first time he had competed on a grass track and he struggled in the wet conditions. He could not get up to top speed as the bike kept slipping so he decided not to take part in any other races.
John has a busy schedule ahead of him and did not want to risk an injury which could affect his training.
"It was a good experience and a bit of fun," he said.
The current junior British and world cycling champion and former European champion has come a long way in a short time. He is a talented young man who puts his success down to "determination, drive and hard work".
John, who is based in Manchester, clearly enjoys what he does. For him all the preparation he has to put in is not "a sacrifice but a choice".
He is currently focused on taking part in the Scottish championships which take place in the new Sir Chris Hoy velodrome in Glasgow in October but in the longer term he wants to compete in the Commonwealth Games in two years’ time and then in the Olympics in Brazil in 2016.
The weather at Halkirk was responsible for John only competing in one race but it also affected the Highland dancing. The boards were wet and slippy so it was decided to transfer the events to the nearby Ross Institute.
Although there was a lack of international heavies, there was good competition among the nine contestants. The championship was won by Craig Sinclair from Banchory, who saw off challenges from American Beau Fay, Jason Young from Tain, Garry Hagan from Clydebank, Stuart Anderson from Killin, as well as four locals, including Halkirk’s Murray Gunn who won the county championship.
The track-and-field category was dominated by Andrew Raeburn from Thurso, who had a memorable day.
He won the open and county titles and received a host of cups, including the Prince Henry Sinclair Trophy awarded to the most outstanding performance by a Caithness competitor.
Wick’s Evan Oliphant took the open cycling championship while the county title went to Jordan Kennedy from Keiss.
The open Highland dancing champion in the 16-and-over age group was Laura Smith from Huntly, while Stephanie Webster from Wick took the county title in the same age category.
Neil Mathieson from Alness dominated the senior piping events, winning all five to secure the open championship with Scott Hay coming out on top in the 15-and-under-18 contest. William Campbell won his three events in the under-15 section.
Games secretary Iain Mackenzie was pleased with the turnout and the standard of competition. "It was a hard day but everything went well. The gate and the crowd were down but the competition in the heavy, cycling and track-and-field events was good," he stated.
"We only had one heavy competitor from overseas this year but a lot of the Americans who take part on the circuit did not come over because so many games have been cancelled because of the weather."
22lb ball – Craig Sinclair, Banchory. 16lb ball – Jason Young, Tain. 56lb weight for distance – C. Sinclair. 28lb weight for distance – C. Sinclair. 16lb hammer – C. Sinclair. 22lb hammer – C. Sinclair. 56lb weight for height – J. Young. Tossing the 16lb sheaf – Beau Fay, Washington, USA. Tossing the caber – J. Young.
Trophies – The Andrew Ross Memorial Cup for open champion, the NNC Cup for winner of the 28lb weight for distance and the Clan Gunn Society Centenary Cup for best combined distances in the hammers – C. Sinclair. The John Budge Cup for county champion – Murray Gunn, Halkirk. The A. Waugh Memorial Cup for tossing the caber – J. Young. The Braeval Cup for tug-of-war – Inverness.
Open 17 years and over – 800m (scratch) – Evan Oliphant, Wick. 1600m (handicap) – Craig Hardie, Dalgety Bay, Fife. 2000m (scratch) – E. Oliphant. De’il Tak the Hindmost – C. Hardie. 2400m (h’cap) – Paul Gallagher, Kirkcaldy. 3200m (h’cap) – P. Gallagher. 4800m (h’cap) – E. Oliphant.
Open under 17 years – 800m (scratch) – Dylan Lindsay, Glenrothes. 1600m (h’cap) – D. Lindsay.
1200m (h’cap) – D. Lindsay. 2400m (h’cap) – Jordan Kennedy, Keiss.
Trophies – J.D. Innes Memorial Cup for open champion, the Mac Mowat Cup for county champion and the C. Sutherland Memorial Cup for the winner of the 800m scratch – E. Oliphant. The R. MacDonald Cup for county champion – J. Kennedy. Mac Mowat Memorial Cup for open under-17 champion and the Gordon MacDonald Memorial Trophy for winner of the 1600m under-17 race – D. Lindsay. The Bert Duff Trophy for winner of De’il Tak the Hindmost – C. Hardie.
Track and field
Open – 85m – Andrew Raeburn, Thurso. Long jump – A. Raeburn. 800m – Craig Robertson, Logierait. Hop, step and leap – A. Raeburn. 200m – A. Raeburn. High jump – Craig Spargo. 400m – A. Raeburn. 1600m – C. Robertson. 200m (h’cap) veteran race – David Blackwood. 14 and under-16 – 85m, long jump, 200m, high jump and the 400m – Craig Wares, Thurso.
Trophies – G. Sinclair Cup for county champion, the K. G. MacDonald Cup for open track-and-field champion, the R. Sutherland Cup for the winner of the 400m, the Motorway Cup for most points in 85m and 200m, the G. Polson Memorial Cup for winner of the 85m and the TSB Bank of Scotland Trophy for the 200m – A. Raeburn. The R. Sutherland (Scrabster) Memorial Cup for winner of the 1600m – C. Robertson. The R. Mackenzie Memorial Cup for the winner of 800m – C. Robertson. The Vickers Cup for most points confined to Caithness including cycling but not heavy events – E. Oliphant.
Boys four and five years – Morgan Kennedy, Keiss. Girls four and five – Lois Omand, Hill of Forss. Boys six and seven – Fergus Adams, Avoch. Girls six and seven – Corey Fraser, Halkirk. Boys eight and nine years – Liam Miller, California. Girls eight and nine – Franziska Melzler, Invergordon. Boys 10 and 11 – Rory Adams, Avoch. Girls 10 and 11 – Eilidh Paul, Stonehaven. Boys 12 and 13 – C. McBeath, Banchory. Girls 12 and 13 – Katie Reece, Hill of Forss.
Confined to Caithness – Fling – 12 years and under – Chloe Coghill, Wick. 13 and under-16 – Stacey Webster, Wick. 16 and over – Stephanie Webster, Wick.
Seann Triubhas – 12 and under – C. Coghill. 13 years and under – Stacey Webster. 16 and over – Stephanie Webster.
Open – Fling – 12 and over – C. Coghill. 13 and under-16 – Stacey Webster. 16 and over – Laura Smith, Huntly.
Swords – 13 and under-16 – Claire Risbridger, Wick. 16 and over – Rebecca Thow, Aberdeen. 12 and over – Olivia Bremner, West Kilbride. 13 and under-16 – Melissa Fife, Inverness. 16 and over – Laura Smith, Huntly.
Hullachan – 12 and over – O. Bremner. 13 and under-16 – Stacey Webster. 16 and over – L. Smith.
Irish jig – 13 and under-16 – M. Fife. 16 and over – L. Smith.
Hornpipe – 12 and under – Nicole Ross, Broubster. 13 and under-16 – Stacey Webster. 16 and over – R. Thow.
Trophies – Mackay Cup for open champion 16 and over – L. Smith. Henderson Cup for open champion 13 and under-16 and the Mrs Mackay Cup for county champion 13 and under-16 – Stacey Webster. Tanya Horne Trophy for open champion 12 and under – O. Bremner. Maxwell Brahms Cup for county champion 16 and over – Stephanie Webster. Sheila Black Cup for county champion under 12 and the Waters Cup for most points local – C. Coghill. Shell Expro Trophy for most points in jig and hornpipe over 16 years – L. Smith and R. Thow.
Bank of Scotland Trophy for winner of the open Highland fling 16 and over – L. Smith.
Open – 10 bird-shoot – Paul Sutherland, Wick. 15-bird shoot – Donald MacInnes, North Uist. Aggregate – P. Sutherland. Re-entry – Magnus Norquoy, Orkney. Under 18 years 10-bird shoot – K. Munro, Scrabster.
Trophies – H. Mackay Cup for winner of open 10-bird shoot and the R. MacDonald Cup for the aggregate winner – P. Sutherland. The AA MacDonald Cup for the winner of the open 15-bird shoot – D. MacInnes. The James Hymers Cup for the under-18 10-bird shoot – K. Munro.
Senior – open – Piobaireachd, march, strathspey and reel, jig, march and hornpipe – N. Mathieson, Alness. Junior piping – open – 15 and under-18 – March – Scott Hay. Strathspey and reel – Cameron MacDougall. Jig – S. Hay. Under-15 – March, strathspey and reel and Jig – William Campbell.
Trophies – Andrew Cup for senior champion, the Sandy Swanson Cup for winner of the piobaireachd and the Gordon Asher Memorial Cup for winner of strathspey and reel – N. Mathieson. The Oamuru Cup for the march 15 and under-18, the E.E. Spence Memorial Cup for most points in the junior piping 15 and under-18 – S. Hay. The AB Contractors Cup for the under-15 march, the AB Contractors Shield for the under-15 strathspey and reel, the AB Contractors Shield for the under-15 jig and the UKAEA Trophy for the most promising junior piper – W. Campbell.
Sack race – Under nine years – Lucy Fraser, Halkirk. Nine and under-12 – Iona McBeath, Banchory. 12 and under-16 – C. McBeath.
Three-legged race – Under-9 – Lewis Sutherland and Tom Gordon, Thurso. Nine and under-12 – Archie and Hector Kennedy, Halkirk. 12 and under-16 – Laura Stewart and Lauren Juille, Halkirk.
Girls under six months – Orla Magennis. Boys under six months – Lucas Sutherland. Girls six months and under-13 months – Caoilainn Lucy Oliphant, Wick. Boys six to 13 month – Grant Mowat.
Billy Campbell Shield for champion – C.L. Oliphant.