The Greater Augusta Sports Council has had a lot of success in promoting our community as a major player in minor sports. But the announcement Thursday that the city will host the 1999 Georgia Games is the Council's best coup yet.
The Games are not a niche sport with a popular following. They are the state's largest participatory sporting event, patterned after the Olympics, offering more than 10,000 amateur athletes of all ages and skill levels a chance to compete for medals in at least 30 events.
The competitions range from the traditional - swimming, gymnastics, rowing, basketball and the like - to the offbeat, such as flag football and in-line skating.
This should help erase much of the disappointment of not landing a '96 Olympic event here. "We just hit a grand-slam home run," exulted Sports Council President Ed Presnell on word of the news.
He's not exaggerating.
This marks the first time since the Georgia Games started in 1990 that they were awarded to any city besides Atlanta. It also fulfills a goal the Sports Council first set for itself when it was formed in 1991: to bring the games here.
Presnell, Sports Council executive director Tammy Stout and their team can't be praised enough for the hard work they put into organizing and presenting the bid. They left nothing to chance, winning unanimous approval from Georgia Games officials in Atlanta.
Now Council members face another big challenge the next two years - helping raise $500,000 in corporate sponsorships and recruiting up to 2,500 volunteers.
We have no doubt they'll succeed.
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