By Mick Jensen
He’s just retained the East Coast Championships in Australia and now Scottish heavy athletics competitor Craig Manson is focused on the Hororata Highland Games, an event he goes into as one of the hot favourites.
The Ashburton painter improved on all of his 2017 distances in the six throwing events in Australia and matched or improved weights in the three lifting events.
He was just 1cm away from the field record for the heavy hammer, throwing the 11.4kg weight an impressive 27m.
The gruelling one-day competition included a non-competitive event where athletes walked with 125kg in one hand and 145kg in the other.
“I was really happy with the way most of the events went. I was nervous going into the championships, but the nerves settled and I proved last year’s victory was not just a fluke.”
Manson said he had taken 10 weeks off from throwing earlier this year with a back issue, but things were back on track now.
At 107kg and 1.79m, he is dwarfed by some of the giants on the heavy events circuit, which makes no allowance for size.
Manson was crowned the Australian Scottish Heavy Athletics champion in April and continues to use his speed and technique to outperform big strongmen.
His sights are now set on New Zealand’s biggest Highland Games event at Hororata on November 10, an event where he was the runner up last year.
“I’m working hard in the gym and upping my throwing. If I throw and lift like I did in Australia earlier this month, I should win.”
The Hororata event would include traditional events like the caber toss, stone putt, hammer, sheaf and weight for distance, and also the Hororata Stones event, where athletes lifted five stones, weighing between 100kg and 145kg, on to the top of wine barrels.
Last year’s winner, Jono McFarlane, was again the likely main opposition, he said.
Craig Manson trains in his home gym and also at Snap Fitness.
He is a former power lifter, inspired to compete by watching the likes of top shot putters Tom Walsh, Jacko Gill and Valerie Adams on the world stage.
Manson’s future ambitions include competing at a Highland Games in Scotland one day.