Top skating feature of Waimate games

Waimate's Caledonian Games are attracting worldwide attention, particularly among speed skaters.

Speed skaters from Slovakia, Germany and Australia will join New Zealanders on the track during the Caledonian Games, to be hosted at Victoria Park on Saturday.

That worldwide support has gone a long way to helping boost the number of speed-skating entrants, Caledonian Games secretary treasurer Winnie Todd said.

"We have 60 entrants . . . normally we would get 30 to 40."

She said many of the competitors have been on tour in the North Island and have decided to attend the Caledonian Games to mark the end of their New Zealand circuit.

Of the 60 competitors, five will be from overseas.

Waimate athlete Emily van der Heyden will also take to the track.

"It's great really. It's bringing in a lot of top class [athletes] - a lot of those former world champions. They've been on a tour already, throughout New Zealand."

The skaters will compete in a range of events, including a North Island v South Island 2400 metre race.

However, Mrs Todd said there were not enough overseas competitors for them to have a race against the New Zealanders.

Waimate's annual Caledonian Games, which are into their 137th year, will also include athletics, track cycling, highland dancing and piping. Events start at 10am.

Mrs Todd said the games, organised by the Caledonian Society, aimed to give people a chance to celebrate the town's Scottish heritage.

A range of other events will also be celebrated in Waimate at the weekend including show jumping, which starts on Saturday and continues on Sunday.

The event, organised by South Canterbury, North Otago Area of Equestrian Sports of NZ, will take place at the Waimate A&P Showgrounds.

Cycling enthusiasts will also have plenty of reason to join in the activities, with a 40 kilometre road cycling race planned for the Sunday.

The Timaru Herald