Strong line-up for Waimate’s Caledonian Games

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The Waimate Caledonian Society hosts the 141st edition of its annual games at Victoria Park on Saturday, keeping alive the long-running tradition the games have in the Waimate district.
This year’s events feature highland dancing, solo piping, cycling, track and field athletic events and inline speed skating, while traditional events include the much-loved caber toss and heavy ball throwing.
Waimate Caledonian Society secretary Bernie Blackgrove was particularly excited about the inline skating events, which will feature world and European champion Elton de Souza, of France, brothers Krystof and Simon Pravda, of the Czech Republic, and India’s Yogesh Pawar.
Several other skaters from around the country will also compete. Former inline skating world champion Nicole Begg, of Timaru, had not yet confirmed if she would compete, Mrs Blackgrove said.
She said the strong field had been encouraged to take part in the games by South Canterbury inline skating stalwart Bill Begg, Nicole’s father.
Waimate cyclist Dylan Kennett would compete on the bike, which Mrs Blackgrove said was “really exciting” for the games.
She said the games – the longest-running in New Zealand – made for a wonderful day out and she hoped more spectators would be watching this year.
“Certainly the people that take part love it – we don’t have any trouble getting them – but it would be nice to get some more spectators along.
“With that in mind, we have made admission free this year . . . there’s something for everyone.”
The first event – children’s athletics – gets under way at 9.30am.
Waimate staged its first highland games in 1875, and they have been held every year since, including during the war years.
At that time, Caledonian societies were spread across New Zealand with few towns where athletic festivals were not held. Cash prizes attracted distinguished competitors from across New Zealand and Australia, and crowds flocked to the games.