Originally created 07/24/99

Wakeboarding novice takes gold in contest

Although new to the sport of wakeboarding, Zach Beverly of Evans brought home a gold medal in his division in Friday's Georgia Games competition.

At age 4, Zach was the youngest competitor in the event that featured about 35 athletes in 10 divisions. Wakeboarders competed on the Savannah River near Riverwalk Augusta.

"He really loves it," said his mother, Lisa Beverly, who had her video camera in hand to tape her son's first competition. "He wants to do it every single day. Mom gets tired of it, but he and his dad love it."

Zach, who competed in the "Grom" division for children ages 5 and under, just smiled really big and said he liked jumping over the waves. The only participant in that category, he was awarded the gold medal after he avoided falling.

Wakeboarding combines elements from other sports such as surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding.

Competitors are pulled behind a motorboat like a water skier on a board, and the wakeboarder does stunts such as flips, twists and spins. Competitors make two quarter-mile passes and are allowed only one fall.

Zach's biggest stunt was letting go of the rope and waving to the crowd on his second pass.

The sport is about 10 years old, with interest in it growing rapidly, said competitors at the event.

Zach's dad, Eddie Beverly, said his company, H.O. Sports, which once primarily sold water skis, now counts wakeboards as its biggest seller.

"They are now 70 percent of our sales," he said.

Augustan Seth Tharin, 31, used one of those wakeboards to place second in the intermediate division, winning a silver medal. Connor Shivers of Greenville, S.C., won the gold in intermediate.

However, Tharin was also given a gold medal -- for being the top Georgia participant in his division. Georgia Games officials said the top three Georgia finishers in each event -- regardless of where they placed -- still will receive medals.

"I think it's great the Georgia Games came to Augusta," said Tharin, who has been wakeboarding for about three years and has competed only a couple of times "I'm glad we had a good showing."

Charmain Z. Brackett can be reached at (803) 441-6927 or czbrackett@hotmail.com.


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