Scottish Games (1)

By Matt Helm


The Scottish Heavy Olympics Tournament came to the Boone County Fair Grounds for the first time for Heritage Days on Saturday, June 25.

“I’ve been throwing for 15 years and I approached the Heritage Days group to see if they’d be interested in hosting us and they said they’d love it, so we set everything up,” event organizer Jason Clavenger said. “There are nine events in the Highland Games and they all come from Celtic society before the English outlawed the weapons that they used to test their strengths.

Scottish Games (2)Men and women competed in a variety of old world athletic events. Present was world champion sheaf thrower Elisa Hapner.

“It’s like prehistoric track and field events,” competitor Victoria Bunchek explained. “It takes a lot of weight training to get good. It’s always for fun, and it’s always serious at the same time; it depends on what you want to take out of it.”

Sheaf tossing simulates throwing a hay barrel into a barn loft.

“Out of all of the events, I would say that caber is the one that the audience most likes to see,” Bunchek said. “The goal is to flip a log and get it straight, it is the only event judged by accuracy. When the Celts would go logging, they would flip logs into the river in order to create a bridge and the game evolved from that.”

The event had many first time competitors and first time visitors to Belvidere.

“I just got started participating in the Scottish Heavy Olympics,” competitor Joline Morris said. “I’m also excited to check out the other events for Heritage Days while I am in town.”

Scottish Games (3)Also present was former profession strong man Matt Wanat, former professional football player with the Eagles Julian Vanderville, former world record holder for the 42 lbs. weight toss Rick Cramer and strength and conditioning Coach Terry Smith.

Competitors came from all around the country. Everybody was dressed in traditional Scottish attire.

“Some people choose their tartans because of their lineage, while others just wear what they think is a cool set of colors,” Clavenger said.

The Scottish Heavy Athletics tournament will return to the area for Cherry Valley Days. The competitors also raise money for Making Strides for Breast Cancer and Relay for Life.


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