As another indication of the international appeal of Highland Games, the competition in Luzarches, France drew a field from seven countries.
Francis Brebner filed this report for IronMind®.
2009 Luzarches Highland Games
By Francis Brebner
The Luzarches Highland Games in France this past weekend, which were held at the Golf de Mont Griffon, attracted more than a thousand spectators with its nice weather and international line-up of 11 athletes from 7 different countries, including Jimmy Van de Walle, the champion from Belgium; Gert Stegeman and Arnold Wassebali from the Netherlands; Anthony Lordi from Switzerland; Ed Cosner from the USA; Andreas Deuschle and David Frey from Germany; Bruce Aitken and Stephen Aitken from Scotland; and the organizer of the Games, Eric Alagille, from France.
Eric Alagille added that they had a wonderful judging team with Martine and Franck Pouhey from France, who judged the B class, and Tommy De Bruijn from Belguim, who despite his injury traveled to be the judge in the A class. Eric Alagille also mentioned that the Luzarches Highland Games in France and the Montrose Highland Games in Scotland are a twin association, and “Bruce [Aitken] was the one who gave us the taste for heavy events seven years ago by agreeing to be our coach for the first Games that were organized here in Luzarches, France.”
The Luzarches Highland Games committee was especially grateful to Bruce Aitken, who out of friendship agreed to come and throw at the Games this year despite the knee injury which has excluded him from competing this whole season, but Bruce felt that he had to be there anyway, no matter what. In the first event with the 16-lb. stone, Deuschle took the win with a putt of 48’ 2”. In second place was Stephen Aitken with 45’ 5” and in third place, Van de Walle with 42’ 10-1/2”.
In the 22-lb. Braemar standing stone putt, Deuschle claimed a second straight victory with a throw of 39’ 1-1/2”. Stephen Aitken again took second place with 38’ 1/2” and brother Bruce landed in third spot with 36’ 2-1/2”. In the 28-lb. weight for distance, it was a very close competition between Stephen Aitken and Frey, with Aitken just taking the win at a distance of 79’ 6”, leaving Frey in second place at 79’ 3”. Bruce Aitken again claimed third place at 77’ 7-1/2”.
The weight over the bar was also won by Stephen Aitken at a height of 13’ 5-1/4”, giving him his second win of the competition. In second equal were Bruce Aitken and Frey, at a height of 12’ 5-1/2”.
Moving on to the caber, which was 17’ long and 125 lb., the event was won by Stephen Aitken with a 12:05. Frey took second with an 11:50 and Stegeman third with 88 degrees.
In the 22-lb. hammer, both Aitken brothers claimed top positions, with Stephen Aitken taking first place at 103’ 3” and brother Bruce coming in second at 103’ 1-1/2”. Van de Walle placed third at 82’ 5-1/2”.
In the 16-lb. hammer, Bruce took the win over brother Stephen with a distance of 125’ 3-3/4”, with Stephen following behind in second at 121’ 4”. Frey put up a good show with 108’ 8-3/4” for third place.
As room was very tight for the 16-lb. hammer, it was decided that it would be thrown from a little island to the shore to save from throwing it into the water. This went down very well with the spectators and fans as they cheered on the athletes throughout this event. Tommy De Bruijn, who was judging, had the honor of throwing the hammer back every time to the little island, but enjoyed it as much as everyone. Tommy is still recovering from a knee injury which will need surgery, but he plans to be back for next year’s season stronger and throwing farther than ever.
Overall points – A class
1. Stephen Aitken 10
2. David Frey 23.5
3. Bruce Aitken 26
A special non-scoring event, the giant cork throw for distance, was won by Frey with a throw of 32’ 1”.
Final results – B class
1. Dale Walker (Scotland)
2. Markus Single (Germany)
3. Eric Alagille (France)
Final results women’s category, all from Germany
1. Petra Müller
2. Katharina Köhler
3. Renate Rieger
I reflected on the Games this past year, including top international Games such as Bressuire, France; Antigonish, Canada; and Pleasanton California, and other Games that are getting established and growing in places like Germany, Norway, Switzerland and here in Luzarches, France—and what can I say but that the tradition is here to stay and is growing ever larger each year.