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From The Archives: "FEB 2020 Athlete Spotlight: Kyle Lillie"

As the dust settles on an impressive victory at Queen Mary last weekend. Professional Highland Games athlete, Kyle Lillie, humored HighlandGames.Org (HGO) by answering some questions about his highland games career.
HGO: As a former track and field athlete at ASU, being experienced with shot put, discus and hammer/weight throw. What do you think is the most challenging event in the highland games?
KL: I think that can be a tossup between Caber and Sheaf. That being said of those two I would say Sheaf is the most challenging.
HGO: Why is that?
KL: The other events transfer from track and field pretty easy but these two events are extremely specific to the Highland Games and are unlike anything I had done before I was introduced to the sport. But, I think Sheaf is the hardest for this reason. In Caber, if you come in with relatively good strength and you get a quick tutorial you can get lucky with the timing and turn a caber pretty quick. Just ask Colin Dunbar haha. The Sheaf is the most difficult because you can’t rely on strength to get it to a competitive height. Yes you can get lucky and put one over the bar at 20 feet but that won’t take you very far. You have to put in a lot of time and learn from a lot of people to make it work.
HGO: You’re a big guy, and so I'm assuming that you can put away some food. What is your go to intra-games food/snack to keep you fueled?
KL: I tend to go the beast mode route and eat Skittles and Sweet Tarts. But I also like to grab some uncrustables and beef jerky to keep in my bag. BUT…. Nothing is better than a couple of good old lunch break Heritage Meat Pies! A Reign or 2 never hurt anyone either.
HGO: Do you have any horror stories about what not to eat in the middle of a games?
KL: Speaking of Heritage Meat Pies…… don’t eat a Mac and Cheese Pie mid Games when you are lactose intolerant…… it makes Caber really tough….
HGO: Having been in a high pressure situation as an athlete on a national/international stage you probably are better than most at dealing with the pressure. Do you have any suggestions for athletes on how to manage emotions/anxiety/the pressure that are maybe new to the sport or new to competing in general?
KL: It’s an extremely hard thing to deal with and I’ve been on both sides. I’ve caved to the pressure and I’ve overcome and succeeded. Usually I need to calm myself down, drop my guard a little bit and live in the moment. When I was at ASU I qualified for the NCAA Championship. I wanted to All-American so bad! And at a school like ASU there is a throws reputation to try and live up to. I got way to amped up, way to in my head and I threw 10 feet under my PR. As a kid who was not even in the mix to be at Nationals at the beginning of the season, I should have had the mind set of “oh shit. I’m at the big show… let’s just have some fun!” I probably would have done way better had I thought that. I still to this day fall victim to that from time to time but most of the time now I can bring myself back down and take a step back and relax. When you are relaxed things tend to fly…
HGO: Besides throwing, the games have many different aspects - the camaraderie, the shit talking, the festivals, etc. What is your favorite part of the highland games?
KL: My favorite is just BSing with the Guys. I absolutely love throwing. It’s my Career. But the thing that drove me to the Highland Games from Track and Field was being able to stand off to the side with a bunch of friends and joke and laugh, make fun of each other and just fuck around and then 10 seconds later flip that switch to athlete and competitor. There isn’t another sport like it in that regard.
HGO: Thanks for taking some time out of your day to chat with HGO. If you could say one thing to your younger Highland Games self... what would that be?
KL: Don’t expect anything… Go out and earn it. Thanks for asking me to take part in this!
HGO would like to extend a big thank you to Kyle Lillie for taking the time to fill out some questions for all the HGO patrons.

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