2000 Inverness Highland Games Review

The first Inverness Highland Games of the 21st Century can sit proudly with any Inverness Highland Games of any century.

This may seem like lavish praise but it is well deserved and all credit must go to the Highland Council and the volunteers on the Games Organising Committee for providing the Capital of the Highlands with such an enjoyable, well-organised and spectacular event on Saturday (July 22).

The crowd inside Bught Park Stadium was well up on last year and in the region of 5000. Early estimates suggest that a further 5,000 visited the free attractions in Bught Park during the course of the event making this one of the best-attended Games in modern times.

The day started in glorious sunshine with the Royal British Legion Pipes and Drums Band marching from the town centre to Bught Park after performing outside Eastgate Centre. The parade from town was revived this year and it was truly a marvelous sight as the band and so many folk proudly wearing the kilt walked along the banks of the River Ness followed by hundreds of tourists and townsfolk.

The shorter Children's Parade led by Cally the Crocodile from Inverness Sports Centre and Aquadome to the Games was also an impressive sight and the happy smiling faces of the little youngsters and parents behind the friendly green giant were really something to see.

Dominating an immaculately prepared Bught Park when the parades arrived was the 150 high Terrorslide, which was raising funds for Children's Charity NCH Action for Children Scotland.

Almost 200 brave souls took the plunge from the top of the crane during the day and it was rumoured that the Games Committee had moved the piping tent to drown out the screams of the riders.

Some of the young Highland Dancers were given the honour of marching on to field to greet the Chieftain of the Games, Provost William Smith, with the band at the opening ceremony. The Provost thanked the generosity of the Games sponsors, which included the Inverness Courier, Tomatin and the Express by Holiday Inn, Inverness and many others. A youngster representing the competitors who had participated at the Mini Highland Games the previous week then tossed a foam caber to signal that it was time for the Games beautiful black and gold flag to be raised and to thunderous applause the Games were officially opened in glorious sunshine.

The Games Highland Dancing Competition were truly spectacular this year thanks to the work done the organiser Elizabeth Fraser and the legions of proud parents who took over the west end of the stadium can be very proud of their youngsters. Throughout the day the applause of the dancing spectators echoed across the arena and the dancers were thought by all to be simply magnificent. Special mention must go to the tiny four years olds who brought tears to the eyes of many a proud parent as they took to the stage for the first time.

As ever the Games Piping competitions were hugely entertaining and the idea of locating the piping in a theater style setting in the Tomatin Music Tent proved extremely popular. Hundreds of spectators took advantage of the chance to relax in the shade and hear some superb solo performances and the standard of the piping this year was thought by many to have been the best for years. The Inverness Games are now too big to walk around without needing a sit down so it is good news that it look's like the Piping Tent is here to stay.

Amongst the many attractions around the Stadium this year was an even bigger display than ever before by the Royal Air Force with the giant SeaKing Search and Rescue Helicopter providing the star attraction. Thousands of spectators took the opportunity to look at everything from Ground to Air Missiles to Survival Equipment and the number of children who climbed on the personnel carrier must have created a record.

The Games athletics events started with some sprint races for the under eleven's while over at the Cage, there was delight and despair in the Woman's Hammer throwing competition. Frances Miller of Elgin equalled and then beat her Under 17 Scottish record to the delight of the crowd subject to ratification.

Unfortunately, the hammer was then weighed and found to be 60 grams too light much to the horror of the official who supplied it. Frances took the news with her usual trademark big smile and good humour and we know that she will beat her record soon.

This was the only hiccup on an otherwise perfect day for athletics when the full programme of athletic events provided some brilliantly contested entertainment, especially during the men's 400 metres event when one of the competitors decided to run round in a pair of borrowed tracksuit bottoms. Discovering after a few strides that he would have to hold up them or lose them, the runner somehow managed to record a respectable time, despite having to hold on for dear life to a fistful of material all the whole way round. The Heavy Events were as popular as ever with a good turn out of Heavy Athletes providing an excellent afternoon's entertainment. Frances Brebner (S.G.A.) dominated the day, winning the Shot Putt, Weight for Distance, Weight for Height and the Tomatin sponsored Caber.

The Games ended with a spectacular aerobatics display sponsored by Express by Holiday Inn, Inverness over the stadium with Pilot Jim McTaggart showing the delighted crowd just why he is regarded as one Britain's top stunt fliers.