Strongman legend Ian Miller set to bring Highland Games to Welwyn Garden City
PUBLISHED: 07:05 27 February 2016
Ian Miller has a rich personal legacy within the Highland Games and the sport as a whole and now he is hoping the first-ever Scottish Highland Games in Welwyn Garden City can make history too.
In just over three months time, on the Spring bank holiday weekend of Sunday, May 29 to be exact, Gosling Sports Park will play host to the 2016 Scottish Highland Games, arranged by Miller to commemorate the final year of his involvement as a club director at the charitable organisation.
Having won in excess of 250 medals across various throwing events in a 20-year span since 1995 and currently holding the title of over 80s Scottish Highland Games Masters world champion, the 81-year-old is no stranger to success. However, this may well be his toughest challenge to date. So much so he will not be donning his kilt and competing this time around.
Miller told the WHT: “I spoke to one of my friends in Scotland who has organised events like this before and he said keep it simple, don’t try and do too much.
“I wanted to keep most of the aspects of a traditional Scottish Highland Games though so knew it would be extremely hard work.
“I am just going to concentrate on organising the event this year. I want everything to go smoothly. Should it be a success though, I guarantee I’ll take part next year.”
The eight-event competition, which will take place on the football pitch by the trackside bar, is slowly taking shape.
With help from organisers of the Harpenden Highland Gathering, an annual event that has been held in the neighbouring town for the past 70 years, Miller has managed to round up two pipe bands - the Harpenden and British Airways groups, Highland dancers, equipment, judges and homemade trophies for the winners.
The veteran strongman has even written to the official Scottish Highland Games Association to make the event an associate member of the world-famous organisation.
Now there is just a small matter of the competitors.
Twelve people have already parted with their £20 entry fee in order to participate.
He said: “We’ve got a man from Australia who is visiting family in Scotland and wants to compete so he he’s coming to the UK a week early.
“There’s also four coming from Wales, both men and women, three women and a man from England and a man and a woman from Scotland and two men from Germany and we could have more.”
Miller is hoping more strong men and women will put pen to paper to compete before the deadline for entrants on Saturday, April 30.
With six categories, or flights as they are traditionally known, ranging from 20-year-olds to 70 years plus, there is a chance for any amateur strongmen, young or old, to enter.
He said: “There’s several traditional events in this competition such as the 16lb Open Stone, 22lb Braemar Stone and Caber Toss for the men while the women will have to deal with the 13lb Braemar Stone and 16lb heavy hammer so it’s going to be a big test.”
The day is not just for the adults, with a kids’ session from 9am-12pm kicking off the festivities.
Entry for kids stands at just £1 and that includes entry into all junior events in the morning.
The competition has caught the imagination of many people, not least Ros Cramp, Herts Sports Disability Hub Officer for Herts Sports Partnership, who is hoping to organise a disabled children’s Highland Games event, at the same venue, the Friday before the main event.
Miller said: “The last day of term is that Friday so she said ‘can we come along and do something on the day?’ Of course I said ‘yes’.
“I’ve got some special cabers and hammers together for the kids to throw around, she’s getting a piper to come along as well. She believes around 200 children could be present on the day. It’s going to be a great addition to what is turning out to be a great weekend.”
For more information on how to enter or the competition itself visit www.goslinghighlandgames.com or like the event on social media site Facebook.