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Feis Chlobhair to add games for women, masters

Ted Leger, who competed for more than a decade in Scottish heavy athletics, wants to grow the competition at Clover’s Feis Chlobhair.

Leger, who is organizing the Scottish athletics at Clover’s annual festival, said the June 13 event will for the first time feature two new divisions: one for women and a masters division for men ages 40 and older.

Leger said he wants to increase the size of Clover’s heavy athletics competition, which he said attracted 12 to 14 athletes six years ago.

“We’ll probably have seven to 10 women and we’ll probably have seven to 10 masters,” said Leger, who divides his time between Clover and a farm in Virginia. “And we already have over 30 amateurs, so that’s going to bring us up to over 50 athletes, which is huge.”

Last year, the event was moved to New Centre Park from Memorial Stadium, and the festival portion of the day was pared down, although the heavy athletics went on as before.

However, Clover Town Manager Allison Harvey said last week the town is planning this year to bring back some of those traditional festival events.

Harvey said nothing is concrete yet. But she said town leaders hope to bring back some Feis Chlobhair favorites, including the clans, border collie herding, pipes and drums, music and dancers. The event also has included a rugby tournament.

Leger, 54, said he began competing in Scottish heavy athletics when he was 41 and saw the Loch Norman Highland Games in Huntersville, N.C.

“As soon as I saw it, I said, I have to learn how to do that,” he said. He attended a Huntersville clinic and began competing. “I just took off from there. It’s addicting.”

He has been successful. Leger competed in the masters world championship in Calgary in September 2011 and came in third in his age group.

Leger said he recently retired from competition, but still promotes the games. He is the founder of the Highland Games League, which puts on a Warrior competition series in the spring and fall.

He said the spring Warrior competition includes a six-game series that begins March 28 in Cape Fear, N.C., and ends June 13 in Clover, where the winner will be named. The winner will get a $500 gas card, he said.

A schedule and prize for the fall series has not been set, he said.

Leger also said he is seeking sponsorships to help the athletes. “I’m trying to get sports insurance for the athletes, because a lot of these guys don’t even have medical insurance,” he said.

Leger, an IT professional who consults with hospitals, said Scottish heavy athletics is the opposite of the type of work he does during the week.

“You’re out there in the grass and dirt and you’re throwing heavy objects,” he said. “You’re really competing against yourself every time you throw.”

Highland Games have seven mandatory events. They are the open stone 16-pound throw, the caber toss, 56-pound weight for distance, 28-pound weight for distance, sheaf toss, hammer toss and the 56-pound weight over bar.

Leger also hosts the Leger Invitational, an invitation-only weekend of entertainment and competition he hosts for usually a dozen athletes, this year at the High Hampton Inn in Cashiers, N.C. The athletes are chosen based on their placement in certain games, he said.

“It’s my way of thanking the athletes for continuing their support,” he said.