Whidbey Island’s Tishia Malone likes to throw stones — big ones.
Malone started competing in Highland games at age 49 to control her multiple sclerosis. Now, seven years later, she has not only reined in the disease but has become one of the world’s best in her sport.
Malone placed third in her division (women 55-59) at the 19th annual Scottish Masters Athletics Heavy Events World Championships last month in Tucson, Arizona.
She earned world qualifying standards while developing into one of the country’s top athletes in Highland games.
Malone travels all over the United States and Canada to compete and has won numerous titles, including recent games in Penticton, B.C., and Spokane.
She placed second at the Northwest Championships in July in Enumclaw.
“I started working at it and slowly got better,” Malone said. “This year I finally got the gumption to go to worlds.”
She actually qualified for the world championships the past two years but it wasn’t convenient to travel to Iceland and Germany to compete.
With this year’s event in Arizona, Malone decided to take on the world’s best. She came into the tournament ranked seventh and was tied for the lead after the first day of competition.
The second day featured her weaker events, Malone said, and she slipped to third in the final standings.
Malone, however, did “finally beat” two Canadian champions for the first time, she said.
Malone and eventual champion Cindy Johnson of Colorado were the only competitors to finish first in two of the nine disciplines at the world championships.
Malone recorded the best marks in the Braemer stone (13 pounds), 23 feet, 1.75 inches, and the heavy weight throw (21 pounds), 23-3.5. She was second in the light weight throw (14 pounds), 48-10.75, and sheaf toss (10 pounds), 18.
She added a third in open stone (9 pounds), 27-1.25; and was fourth in three events: light hammer (12 pounds), 59-4.5; weight over bar (21 pounds), 12 feet; and caber toss (17-foot pole), 65 degrees.
Malone was fifth in the heavy hammer (16 pounds), 47-8.5.
Malone, who lives in Coupeville after stints in Oak Harbor, Bellingham and Langley, is shooting for a world title in 2021 when the site of the championships returns to the western hemisphere.
“I’m training hard; I still haven’t peaked,” she said. “I still have a ways to go.”
Malone currently practices on her own about once a week. She does not have a coach but receives pointers from other competitors and judges.
Next year she is going to cut back her competitions, “keeping it light,” to four or five and “do more drills and weight lifting,” she said. “That should help.”
As the 2021 world championship approaches, she will ramp up her training and enter more competitions.
Malone has always been active in sports, playing softball, basketball, rugby and soccer. She also finished a triathlon and several Sea-to-Ski races, but when running became difficult, she turned to Highland games, which were introduced to her by her stepfather. As a spectator she found the sport intriguing and decided to give it a try.
She placed third in her first tournament at age 49 although she was competing against women up to 20 years younger.
Malone, fighting back her MS, now ranks among the world’s best. Nothing like killing two birds with one stone.