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Adaptive athletes aim to smash world records at Mey Games

By David G Scott

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FOLLOWING the world records set at the Mey Highland Games last year, athletes from around the world are preparing to raise the bar even higher on August 3.

In 2018, the games became the first event of its kind to introduce para-athletics to a range of events including the traditional heavies – the traditional throwing of hammers, putting the stone, tossing the caber, throwing weight for distance and over the bar.

Double amputee Matthew Hall broke world records at last year's Mey Games. Pictures: DGS
Double amputee Matthew Hall broke world records at last year's Mey Games. Pictures: DGS

The chairman of the games, Councillor Andrew Sinclair, said: "Mey Highland Games is among the first Highland Games ever to introduce adaptive and ladies' events, and our inclusivity is something of which we are very proud. The games are also designed to be welcoming to families, with lots of races and entertainment for children."

He said the "pioneering games" had also secured support from the Duke of Sussex's Invictus Games Foundation and athletes from Help for Heroes, Uncle Sam’s Highlanders and Lothian Disability Sport will be attending this year. All events will be cheered on by the official chieftain of the Mey Games, HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay.

Help for Heroes – the charity supporting injured veterans – last year brought together a team of a dozen men and women from all over the UK, including wounded and injured veterans and serving personnel. This year the charity has pulled out all the stops, with more than 40 competitors travelling to Caithness from across the UK.

Also making a return trip to the games are Uncle Sam’s Highlanders, who smashed two world records last year. Uncle Sam’s Highlanders is a non-profit organisation set up by US veteran Alexander "the Tank" Armor with the specific mission of introducing adaptive games to Scotland.

The Mey Games in 2018 was deemed a great success.
The Mey Games in 2018 was deemed a great success.

The Tank put together a team of eight athletes, attendants and support staff – totalling 22 people – to make the historic trip to Caithness. On the way north, the team stopped at the Dornoch Highland Games, where Matthew Hall became the first amputee to throw on Scottish soil at a competitive Highland Games.

The next day, Hall stunned Mey Highland Games crowds by winning four of the first five events and setting para-standing world records in the 16 and 22-pound shot.

Beyond the traditional heavies there is a wide range of competitive events for adaptive athletes and ladies and the usual fun children’s races.

Councillor Sinclair said: "The games is a wonderful introduction to Highland culture and the hospitality and talent of the people of Caithness. We very much look forward to providing a warm welcome to guests from around the world."

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