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Luke doctor becomes world champion, sets world record

Maj. Shawn Baker, 56th Medical Group orthopedics, swings a hammer as part of a Scottish Masters Athletics International Competition even in Denver, Colorado.  Baker has been competing in the games for four years. (Courtesy photo)

Maj. Shawn Baker, 56th Medical Group orthopedics, swings a hammer as part of a Scottish Masters Athletics International Competition even in Denver, Colorado. Baker has been competing in the games for four years. (Courtesy photo)

Maj. Shawn Baker, 56th Medical Group orthopedics, tosses a caber during a Scottish Masters Athletics International Competition event in Denver.  The caber is like a telephone pole and the goal is to toss it in the air and have it do one full rotation before landing.  To make it more challenging, competitors are also judged on how straight it lands. (Courtesy photo)

Maj. Shawn Baker, 56th Medical Group orthopedics, tosses a caber during a Scottish Masters Athletics International Competition event in Denver. The caber is like a telephone pole and the goal is to toss it in the air and have it do one full rotation before landing. To make it more challenging, competitors are also judged on how straight it lands. (Courtesy photo)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- One of Luke Air Force Base's own, Maj. Shawn Baker, 56th Medical Group orthopedics, took home the title of world champion and set a new world record during the 2010 Masters World Championship of the Scottish Masters Athletics International Aug. 14 in Denver.

"The Highland Games have been around since 1020 A.D.," Major Baker said. "They used the games to select the best warriors for armies."

The games consisted of nine events; the caber toss, weight thrown for height, the sheaf toss, Braemar stone, open stone, two hammer throws and two weights thrown for distance.

The caber toss has competitors hold a log or pole, similar to a telephone pole, in their hands with the pole straight up in the air. The competitor will then run forward and toss the caber up in the air. The goal is to have the caber do a full rotation in the air before landing. Competitors are judged on how closely their throws land in the ideal 12 o'clock position.

The two stone throws, the open and Braemar, are similar to the shot-put except a large stone is used instead of a steel ball. The open stone weighs anywhere from 16 to 22 pounds and the Braemar stone weighs 20 to 26 pounds. When throwing, competitors must stay within a rectangular box and throw for distance.

The hammer throw is similar to the hammer throw in track and field competitions, but the hammer is different. The highland games hammer is a round metal ball weighing 16 to 22 pounds attached to the end of a four foot piece of wood or plastic. With the feet in a fixed position, the hammer is whirled about the head and thrown for distance over the shoulder.

The weight throws have competitors throw differing weights for distance or height. Thrown for distance are a 42-pound weight and a 28-pound weight while a 56-pound weight is thrown for height. Competitors throw the weights with one hand and the longest and highest throws win.

The last competition, the sheaf toss, has competitors toss a 16-pound bag of straw over a bar for height. The sheaf is picked up with a pitchfork and the fork and bag are thrown together.

Major Baker just recently started competing in the highland games after a coworker introduced him to it.

"I was doing weight lifting and strongman competitions before," he said. "Then two years ago one of the physicians assistants came in wearing a kilt. I asked what the kilt was for and he told me about the games. It sounded interesting so I went out to one in Albuquerque, competed and had a blast. So I continued to train and compete."

After finding a sport he liked and was naturally good at he has continued to train and prepare himself for competition.

"The Scottish Masters is a competition for those over 40," he said.

Major Baker set a world record in the sheaf toss at the Denver competition.

"The last record was 34 feet two inches," he said. "I threw 34 feet three inches, and I think I still have some more to go. So next time I may set the record higher."