Training as a Marine has to have its ups and downs day in and day out, but the call to serve is a passion that makes members of the United States armed forces one of a kind. For 33-year old former Marine door gunner Amanda Ford, who served two combat missions overseas, that drive and determination recently helped her dominate the 61st Grandfather Mountain Highland Games like she was still on active duty.
The Minnesota native and current Wilmington resident won six of the seven athletic events and some of the numbers she put up in the competition could not be overlooked.
Ford tossed the clachneart, a nine-pound stone, 28 feet, six inches; the 28-pound weight 32 feet, five inches and the 14-pound weight, 63 feet, two inches. Next in orbit were the two hammer throws, which are weights on the end of a stick. The 14-pound hammer sailed 87 feet, nine inches and the 16-pound hammer flew 69 feet, four inches.
In the most exciting of Scottish athletic events, Ford was the only one of eight contestants to turn the caber, an 18-foot, 110-pound telephone pole-like tree trunk. A perfect turn would be flipping the caber end over end to land directly away from the contestant – imagine tossing it entering a clock at 6 o’ clock and having the pole fall at 12 o’ clock. Ford’s landed at 1:30.
After completing her service in the Marines eight years ago, Ford still stays involved with fellow veterans as a surgical technologist at a VA hospital in Wilmington.
This is her second year competing in women’s Scottish athletic events. In her first, she won Grandfather’s inaugural women’s competition, which started in the games’ 60th anniversary year. Ford credits her fiance, Chris Chafin, a professional Scottish athlete, for getting her into the sport.
“Chris taught me the technique and encouraged me to try it, and I love it,” said Ford, who credits her success to weight training, especially for leg strength, and a lot of practice.
Ford competes in 10 games a season, mostly in the fall, through an organization of women Scottish athletes called the Southeast Highland Athletic Group.
There are approximately 500 women Scottish athletes competing in games across the United States and Ford is currently ranked 23. Her ranking will improve significantly after her dominant showing in the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.