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Competition keen as rain fails to dampen spirits at Blackford.


Shane Fenton reports from Games Park, Blackford.

The traditional Highland Games pipe opener took place at Blackford. Sadly the forecast rain arrived just as the track and field events were due to start and persisted throughout the afternoon.

Not surprising crowd numbers were down on the previous few years. The same couldn't be said for the entries for the various events. All the leading heavy event competitors were in attendace to contest the seven disciplines including the 28lb British Weight for Distance Championship.

A good entry for the running was boosted by athletes from as far apart as the Highlands to the Borders. 24 cyclists battled for the prizes in the Open and Youth bike races and the full highland dancing programme went ahead thanks to the covered stage. As ever the school races attracted enthusiastic support.

The top prize in the running and cycling events is the £100 which goes to the winner of the Open 90 metres handicap. The race was run-off in six heats with the final producing a photo finish which saw Northern raider Fraser McDonald prevail by a narrow margin from Central AC duo Kieran Halliday and former winner Cameron Smith.Tony Daffurn, Wishaw, Graeme Armstrong, Edinburgh and Kyle Potts, Hawick filled the minor places.

Three of the finalists also occupied the podium places in the Open 200 metres handicap, on this occasion Daffurn powered home ahead of McDonald and Armstrong. The other finalists were Hawick duo Kyle Potts and Davy Rae along with James Park,Gala.

The Open 400 metres was the last event on he card and despite the weather deteriorating at this stage a good field lined up with victory going to Ewen Bradley,Inverness, Graeme Armstrong who enjoyed a successful winter trip competing in Australia rounded off a good afternoon in Perthshire by staying on for 2nd place with former New Year Sprint winner Daniel Paxton, Hawick in third.

A dozen runners went to their marks for the Open 200 metres and it was David Allan, Balloch who had a good 2018 season who emerged from the pack to take the win from Matthew Fleming, Kelso and Dean Whiteford, Innerlethen.

Blackford Games rarely passes without a winner from the local Central AC, this was again the case with Matthew Sutherland racing to victory in the 1600 metres following on from his club mate Fraser Logan's win 12 months ago.Inverness veteran Don Bradley chased him home with Dean Whiteford again in third place.

There was Borders success in the three Youth races, Sophie Swann, Hawick did the 90m and 200m double despite running from a reduced start in the latter.In the 90m she edged out Chalie Farndon, Strathearn Harriers with Steven Bates, Tullibody in third.In the 200m Alex Crossley, Central AC was runner up with Farndon in third. There was a thrilling finish to the 800 metres with Mattie Fleming.Kelso overhauling Archie Suttie,Anstruther in the last few metres to take the tape, Steven Bates stayed on strongly for third.

The jumping events attracted some of the best competitors in the country. Tony Daffurn landed the double with wins in the Long Jump and Triple Jump,Alan Hamilton, Edinburgh was runner up om both occasions with Kieran Halliday in third place in both. The final event,the High Jump took place in far from ideal conditions with Alan Hamilton coming out on top from Tony Daffurn and Ewen Bradley.

There was an equal split in the cycle events of 12 Open competitors and 12 Youth's.

The Blackford track is always a gruelling test for the bikers even more so when wet.Both the Open 800m and 1600m went to Stewart Burke, Limekilns, Steve Jackson, Strathaven and Paul Anderson, Perth, filled the minor berths in the 800m and Jackson again and James Melville,Dumbarton in the 1600m

Both the 3200 m handicap and Deil tak the Hindmost events saw victory go to backmarker Charles Fletcher Grantown on Spey. The runner up in both races was top French road cyclist Cederic Sachet, the Glasgow based rider will be an exciting addition to the grass tracks this season once he masters the gears and the terrain.

It was great to see so many youth bikers following the recent campaign by the SHGA to encourage the future grass track stars, and one name to note should be Issac Small, Deeside who won all three races from the backmark. Rory Thiel was runner up in both the 800m and 1600m with Jake Speed and Darren Sangster filling the third places.In a rarely run youth Deil, Small and Roubens Thomson, Grampian Tigers were the the two riders left to battle it out on the last lap with the former forcing his bike over the line for the victory.

Blackforf staged the first two SHGA Championships of the new season. The Scottish Tug o War Championship saw the team from Strathardle retain their title. Elgin were runners up with Moffat in third place.

The British 29lb weight for distance Championship also saw the title retained with Scott Rider coming out on top. The overall winner on the day was Vlad Tulacek, Aberdeen, Full heavy event results to follow.

Published: 2019-05-25 21:36:08