Lincoln County man breaks world record at Old Orchard Beach Scottish Highland Games

Nicholas MacPhee releases his weight during his world record throw at the Old Orchard Beach Scottish Highland Games on June 5, 2021. Credit: Courtesy of Nicholas MacPhee via Lincoln County Times.

Nicholas MacPhee of Walpole broke a world record at the Scottish Highland Games at Old Orchard Beach on June 5. MacPhee won every event in the games, including setting a world record in the barbell weight event.

With the victories, MacPhee received an invitation to compete in the Scottish National Games, to be held in Tulsa, Okla. in September.

There were two weight classes at the Scottish Highland Games at Old Orchard Beach: under 200 pounds and over 200 pounds. MacPhee weighed 199.8 pounds and therefore competed in the lightweight division.

In the barbell weight event, sometimes called a weight-for-height event, competitors throw a 42-pound metal ball attached to a ring handle. A competitor stands with his back to the bar and, holding the ring, swings the ball between his legs, then over his head and over the bar.

The rest of the field was eliminated in the weight event over the bar at 16’6”. The bar is usually raised in one-foot increments, but after the other competitors left, MacPhee could choose the height of the bar. The world record, set by Peter Doyle in 1974, was 19’1″ and MacPhee chose to raise the bar to 19’4″. His throw crossed the bar for a new world record.

There were nine events at the Old Orchard Beach games, and MacPhee won all nine. He is ranked No. 1 in the world in the lightweight division by the North American Scottish Highland Games Association.

Other events won by MacPhee include caber throw, stone throw, Braemar, weight for distance, hammer throw and sheaf throw.

In the caber toss, an athlete flips a 16 to 20 foot tree that weighs 70 to 100 pounds end to end. In the stone throwing event, a 16 pound river stone is thrown as a shot put. In the Braemar event, a 22-pound stone is thrown without moving the feet. In the shot put for distance events, 28 and 42 pound weights attached to an 18 inch ring handle are thrown with a spinning technique. The hammer throw is similar to the Olympic hammer throw. In sheaf throwing, a 16-pound burlap sack is stuffed with twine and thrown with a pitchfork for maximum height.

A former weightlifter, MacPhee was ranked fifth in the world and set numerous state records.

“I hung up my belt and focused all my energy on the Highland Games,” MacPhee said.

With a 4-year-old daughter and 8-month-old son, MacPhee made the switch because the Scottish Highland Games are ‘familiar’ with the festival taking place at the same time as the games.

“You’ll learn about Scottish cuisine and the history” of the event, MacPhee said.

This was MacPhee’s sixth competition at the Old Orchard Beach games, and the sixth year the games were held there. He estimates that in the six years he has competed, he has over 20 wins. The games were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MacPhee’s next competition will be at Thomas Point Beach in August.

“I’ll be looking to break a few more world records there,” MacPhee said.

This article is published through a media partnership with The Lincoln County News.