Kyle Randalls reckons America takes a bigger part in Highland Games than we do here in Scotland.
But his new website could change that.
All things tartan are big bucks across the pond and since the 20-year-old hammer thrower edged away from Olympic throwing and into Highland Games events he’s taken part in several across the pond.
Now in a bid to organise more participation, he’s set up a website - www.lifebehindthetrig.com - with fellow thrower Sam O’Kane. It provides discussion points, and will include event listings and results, plus become a hub for throwers aiming to get involved or arrange practice meetings.
“The sad reality is the Americans are more into their Highland Games and have more over there than we do here in Scotland... there’s a bigger number of people willing to take part,” he told The Falkirk Herald.
“It’s a spectator sport here, while there it’s all about taking part and having a go.
“But then, that is because here it’s Highland Games of a high calibre - there aren’t many middle-ability or beginners. If you’re in competition here you’re in at the deep end.”
Practicing to raise his game to a sufficient level to compete in the Scottish events can be difficult. - a 16lb metal ball on a four foot plank can’t really be tossed about just anywhere.
“I’m forced to practice out the back of Grangemouth Stadium,” explained the Grangemouth Stags winger, who also works as a lifeguard at the sports complex on Central Avenue.
“There’s also a disused track at Bathgate I can use and often have it to myself. If I threw within the Stadium it would make quite a mess of the grass with the distance and weight I’m throwing.”
And that’s quite a considerable distance. Randalls has set multiple ground records in the under-25 Glenfiddich League, in the Scots Hammer and the ‘Weight For Height’ division and became the youngest competitor ever in the 180-year history of Braemar Highland games to win the senior hammer.
He finished the year with throws of 142 feet in the 16lb hammer and 120 feet in the 22lb hammer - just five metres off the 65m target for Commonwealth participation in Glasgow in 2014.
However that would be back at wire hammer, which Randalls previously threw before switching to Highland Games and becoming the national association’s ‘most improved junior’.
“Wire hammer is the Olympic style, “he explained. “I did it then changed loyalty altogether and am now focussed on the Highland Games.
“It’s taken me all over the world - Spain and the USA - you can’t beat it. Now there’s a new organisation set up for throwers in Scotland and we’re using our website to discuss it.
“It had been a possibility for a while and they’ve decided to just do it. The website seemed to co-incide with it and the nudge in the right direction
“But right now isn’t quite the right time for the website - it will be really beneficial during the season when we’ll have lists of the games and things like that. That’s when the volume of web traffic will really start come, but it can be used for organising practices and what’s happening too.”
And what’s happening across the pond is not quite as serious as the Scottish events, by the sounds of it.
“As well as having more people involved, they’re more experimental over there, open-minded. We have our idea of the traditions of a Highland Games - yet over there they’re doing all sorts.
“You can watch videos online of people tossing cabers, then the American events will go one step beyond, setting fire to the cabers, then throwing it.
“There’s not much to say really. I’ve never tried it, but we’re looking for strange challenges for a section of the website - so maybe that could form some part.
“The Americans are almost as impressed by your accent and voice than what you do in the events - they are all just desperate to hear you speak!”
Visit the website at www.lifebehindthetrig.com