Women to have highland fling this year


Highland games chiefs are calling for women to be given the chance to toss the caber alongside men at the traditional events.

The test of strength, in which competitors hurl 20-foot wooden poles, has been dominated by men since the inception of the highland games.

Heavy events at games in the US are attracting an increasing number of women, but they often throw a smaller caber - typically 10 to 16 feet long and weighing upwards of 40lb.

Willie Meston, secretary of the Braemar Gathering - the world’s most famous highland games - said organisers did not object to a women’s event but argued that lighter cabers would have to be provided.

He said: “We have no problem with this, if there is sufficient demand.

“But the cabers we have are not suitable for women. They are 21 foot and it wouldn’t be reasonable for a female competitor to throw them.

“We are very far through planning this year’s event so a women’s caber toss won’t be taking place this year anyway.”

The most accomplished female caber-tosser, Shannon Harnett, from the US, has been crowned Scottish games world champion 11 times- but she has never competed in Scotland itself.

Aberdeen University Student Association president for sport Marc McCorkell said: “We want to see sport become more inclusive for women.

“Certainly, we have a very active weightlifting club at the university with a lot of women members.”

Fitness instructor Gaynor McHugh, 37, of female-only Curves Gym in Portlethen, said: “I think the idea is absolutely brilliant.

“I see no reason whatsoever why women wouldn’t be able to do it just as well as men - maybe even better.”

The move follows last month’s decision by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews to admit female members.