In a county that holds many memorable athletic events, for one local athlete, the memories come from outside of Tompkins County. Courtney McGuire has traveled the world and returned home with an assortment of medals from a rather unusual sport.
McGuire, a Trumansburg native, recently returned from the Scottish Masters World Championship in Stuttgart, Germany and bolsters quite the impressive resume, including being the second-ranked woman in the world in the highland games.
While McGuire is a seasoned veteran in the sport, to most within the county highland games are an unknown concept. Modern highland games are descendants of historic Scottish competitions. Competitions dating back to the days of Scottish kings saw many events designed to observe the strongest citizens among the people. Today’s games have many modern improvements but still closely resemble the original design.
For McGuire, a passion for the sport was born almost a decade ago in Ithaca. “Highland games are the biggest ‘why not?’ sport in the world,” McGuire said. “My first exposure to the games was seven years ago at the Ithaca Celtic Festival.”
From that moment, the goal for McGuire was to compete. “Within two weeks, I had my own kilt and started throwing,” she said.
McGuire embarked on a journey that included a rigorous schedule of three days a week in the gym and two days dedicated to nothing but throwing. While it might seem that her weekends would be a time for rest, McGuire took very little time off, traveling the east coast competing in events.
While working through the tough schedule, McGuire stayed determined to perform at her best. The practices were a testament to her goals, but she was not alone on her journey in this individual sport. “I have to say that my coaches and mentors in this fringe sport helped me to become a better athlete,” she said.
McGuire’s training and support didn’t take long to culminate in success. In the seven years since her entrance into the sport, she has found a qualifying mark for the Scottish Masters World Championship four consecutive years including 2018. Qualifying for the World Championship in consecutive years may seem to be a successful run for most people, but for McGuire, she wanted even more success.
That success would come with McGuire’s 2018 run in Stuttgart. Over a two-day competition period, she would earn medals in eight events. Among the hardware, McGuire found herself earning three gold medals for Weight Over Bar, Heavy Weight, and Light Weight throws for distance. She would add three silver and two bronze medals to the trophy case before she would be awarded her final ranking. After two days of competing, McGuire stood upon the podium and was handed her overall trophy, declaring her second place in the world. “I attribute this year’s success to a culmination of three years of very detailed training and a lot of patience,” she said.
McGuire’s run is one that, she hopes, inspires more than just an interest in the world of highland games. “As the smallest competitor on every highland games field I step onto, the best part is being able to inspire others and introduce more people to the greatest show on earth,” she said.
While the accolades are certainly something to behold, McGuire understands that the event was much bigger than just her own representation.
“Representing Tompkins County and Central New York on a world stage means everything to me,” she said, “When I started this seven years ago, I had no idea it would take me all over the world!”
McGuire is a strong representative of the Tompkins County spirit and the drive that lives inside of every athlete, regardless of what sport they play.
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