Heavy Athletic Events at the Games
According to tradition, the games began as informal athletic tests by which kings and clan chiefs chose the best men available for their forces. Records describing these events date back to the sixteenth century, but are believed to be much older. Throwing the hammer supposedly originated as a diversion indulged in by brawny Highland lads gathered around the village smithy.
The Caber Toss - Of all events, tossing the caber is the most traditional and perhaps the most spectacular. A straight, tapered log of 16 to 20 feet, the caber weighs 90 to 100 pounds. In judging, the accuracy of the toss rather than the distance thrown, is the relevant point. An athlete must pick up the caber without assistance and toss it. The caber must make one full turn and fall forward within a clock radius that ranges from nine to three o'clock. A toss that falls closest to twelve o'clock, or straight forward, is the winner. Each athlete is allowed three tosses, with the best of the three being judged.
56 lb. Weight Throw - The weights consist of a ball or block attached by a chain to a ring or triangular handle with a total weight of 28 or 56 pounds. Its length cannot exceed 18 inches. Rules state that a contestant must use only one hand to throw, remain behind a 4'6" trig, or toe bar, and have an approach of 9 feet. The best of three throws counts. Touching the trig or the ground beyond it constitutes a foul. Measurements are taken from the point on the side of the trig closest to the thrower, nearest to where the throwing, or "plant" foot was placed, to the nearest break in the ground caused by the weight. After throwing the weight, the competitor must be standing with one foot to the back of the trig.
The Height Toss - The weight consists of a ball or block attached to a ring or triangular handle with a total weight of 56 pounds. Contestants must use only one hand to toss the weight over a crossbar similar to that used in the pole vault. All measurements are made from the ground to the top of the bar at the midpoint between uprights. Each competitor gets three tosses at each height. The bar is raised until only the winner remains.
The Sheaf Toss- Athletes toss the 16 pound sheaf of hay, wrapped in burlap, over a bar using a pitchfork. They are allowed three tosses at each height. Competitors must toss the sheaf over the bar in order to remain in the competition. The bar is raised six inches at a time until all contestants but the winner are eliminated.