Deputy Sheriff Kimberley Ross Pollard competing with the heavyweights at the Luss Highland Gathering on Saturday.
By Bill Heaney, reporting from Luss on Loch Lomondside
There is nothing unusual about women participating in sports that used to be the sole province of the male species.
We have all seen women over the past few weeks turning in remarkable performances in the Women’s World Cup in France.
And we are seeing them again this week, gracing the lawn tennis courts of Wimbledon in the strawberries, cream and Serena Williams’ world of London SW19.
You have to admit however that at the sun-bathed Luss Highland Gathering on Loch Lomondside on Saturday, we saw a first.
A woman entered in the heavyweights’ section and took part in tossing the caber and throwing the hammer.
A blonde in a vest and kilt with a thin blue line running through it – the tartan of the police federation of America – Kimberley Ross Pollard was giving the big guys a run for their money.
Fifty-eight years of age and a trim 160lbs in weight, Kimberley is a Deputy Sheriff in Yuta, California, USA.
She started out as a PE teacher before becoming a police officer, a Deputy Sheriff, and a prison guard.
Kimberley is no shrinking violet, of course.
We all have visions of American jails which involve death rows, psychopaths, druggies, violent men and women with well-honed muscles barely contained in sweat-stained vests working out in the gymnasium.
Then, there are the Jailhouse Rock and San Quentin dinner hall scenes with an electric atmosphere of tension simmering beneath the surface.
It is in just such a place that Kimberley works.
That’s Kimberley Ross taking on the big guys in the heavy events.
I can vouch for this because she showed it to me on her telephone with a scene from a fight which broke out in the jail.
And which she was sent in to sort out with admirable efficiency, which she did.
Two big guys, bears you might call them, were swiftly huckled back to their cells before they had reached the pudding and coffee stage of their lunch.
There is no porridge in that particular penitentiary.
Kimberley took an interest in Highland Games events when they began to become popular in America.
She recently travelled to Brazil to keep the Ross name to the fore.
“I use my Scottish name when I am competing. I am very proud of my Scottish ancestry,” she told me.
“My husband’s name, Pollard, is English.”
Kimberley didn’t win anything but like any true sports person she believes that winning is not the most important thing. It’s the taking part that counts.
“It’s just wonderful here, a great event,” she said, cheered on by a party of members of the Clan Colquhoun Society, all sporting the saltire on their navy blue T-shirts.
She was one of a large number of foreign visitors, from France, the USA, New Zealand, Australia competing in Luss on Saturday.
And they are likely to be back on Loch Lomondside turf at the weekend for the Balloch Loch Lomond Highland Games, which take place at Moss O’ Balloch on Saturday.
Given some good weather, that promises to be an excellent day’s entertainment.
Highland Games are not all about tossing cabers, throwing hammers, tilting the bucket, pillow fights, running and cycling events.
Patrick Colquhoun, Chieftain of the Luss Highland Gathering, who with his wife Lotte presented many of the trophies, said: “We want them also to be about fun for people of all ages.
“Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly here today and our ambition is to keep things that way.
“Today we were blessed with glorious weather and large crowds of people from all over the world.
“And local people who participated in so many events and helped things run smoothly along the way.”
Sir Malcolm and Lady Colquhoun, Patrick Colquhoun presenting the trophy to Hill Race winner Damien Theaker and Games commentator Craig Dunbar.
Patrick took over the chieftain’s role from his father, Sir Malcolm, at last year’s Games, but that didn’t keep Sir Malcolm and Lady Colquhoun away from the event which they organised over a long number of years.
Meanwhile, the Clan Colquhoun Pipe Band from Helensburgh was keeping the ice-cream and soft drinks devouring spectators entertained.
Helensburgh was well to the fore with yellow-vested Damien Heaker lifting the trophy for the Hill Race and Helensburgh Rugby Club coach David Calderwood winning the heavyweight local events.
The heavyweight champion was Lucas Wenta, a Polish athlete was has settled in East Kilbride and whose mother, Barbara, turned up to see him pick up a remarkable selection of silverware – and Highland Park whisky.
Other heavies who took part and picked up prizes were Kyle Randells, Jeffrey Duer, Gordon Tanner, all announced at close of play by Craig Dunbar, who did a magnificent job of keeping the participants and public well informed throughout the day.
Helensburgh heavyweight David Calderwood throws the hammer; the heavyweight line-up at Luss and Inchmurrin lasses Sarah and Shona (right).