CANMORE - A record-breaking nine women competed in heavy sports at the 29th annual Canmore Highland Games on Sunday (Sept. 1), which was surreal for Jamie Clark to see, who was sometimes the only woman entered in the local competition.
"It was an amazing turnout; I was very surprised that there was so many," Clark said, who finished first among women. "I knew that a few more women were coming, but nine is just unheard of in a games in Alberta, period. So it was really cool to see so many women come out and we were all really supportive and it was just awesome."
The Calgary native is carrying the highland games torch around the country and said it's important to her for women to continue on in sport.
"I want to inspire people, hopefully," Clark said.
Last year previously held the record when three women competed at the local games, where Clark was the runnerup to Susie Lajoie from Nova Scotia.
The 2019 women's second place winner, Celine Freeman-Gibb, who travelled from Windsor to compete in the local and Calgary highland games (Aug. 31), was also thrilled with this year's turnout, which saw five women compete in their first games.
"That's exactly what we're looking for," said Freeman-Gibb. "A whole bunch were new beginners, which is what the sport needs."
Taking place at Centennial Park, the fan favourite heavy games contest, or heavies, consists of the weight throw (56 and 28 pounds), hammer throw (22 lbs., 16 lbs.), throwing the weight over the bar (28 lbs., 56 lbs.), putting the stone, sheaf toss (throwing a straw bag with a pitchfork), and caber toss (lifting and tossing a wood pole).
Freeman-Gibb earned a personal best in the weight over bar contest when she heaved a 28-pound weight up and over a 15.7-foot bar. Yesterday at the Calgary Highland Games, the Ontarian finished first among women, but she wasn't able to clear the weight over a 13-foot bar. Today she cleared a 15-foot bar to win the contest before it was raised so she could get her PB.
"Today is my redemption day," she said.
Clark also competed in Calgary, where she finished second.
"I beat Jamie by half a point (yesterday), but she got me today, so we're even," Freeman-Gibb said, with a laugh.
In the men's divisions, Calgary's Dylan Cameron won the amateur class; Justin Wishart won the master class; and Rob Young was victorious in the open class.
The all day event tests one's strength, skill and endurance in physical challenges, but Young has his own secret to success in the competition.
"You just go all out - every throw; if you're tired at the end of the day, you're tired at the end of the day," he said.