Dukes, 29, is competing in the super heavyweight category of today's one-day Olympic weightlifting competition at Evans High School.
The 6-foot-4, 330-pound Dukes played guard at South Carolina State from 1989 and 1993 and was looking to gain a shot at professional football through the mid-1990s. Then he met weightlifter and teacher Steve Collin, who also is competing today in the 181-pound category.
"Weightlifting was something that prepared me for football," Dukes said. "As football began to fade away, I thought this could be something I would excel at."
Dukes trains out of World Gym and hopes to use his Georgia Games experience as a "warmup to get the jitters out." He plans to compete in the Dixie Open in September at Atlanta and the Tar Heel Open at Chapel Hill, N.C., in October.
As of late Friday afternoon, the age disparity between the youngest and oldest competitors is 82 years.
Aiken's John Thurman III is the oldest competitor, at age 85. He is competing in the masters division of track and field on Sunday, throwing the javelin and discus. Thurman carried the flag into the Opening Ceremonies at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center on Friday night.
The youngest competitor is Wyatt Evans of Columbia, S.C. Evans is a 3-year-old Tae Kwon Do competitor.
TRACK AND FIELD:
Isaac Prophet, a member of Burke County's state champion 1,600-meter relay team and one of the area's top sprinters, proved on Friday he still is one of the top sprinters, easily taking the top qualifying position in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.83 seconds . ... Allison Lloyd, a member of the Augusta DC Flyers Track and Field Club, has the top qualifying time in the midget girls 100 meters with a 12.90 seconds.
Friday's dressage tests at Pine Top Farm in Thomson featured a big field even though several riders scratched at the last minute.
"We really wanted to show off our hard work," said Sarah Brooks of Evans. "I was really looking forward to that."
But a swollen ankle kept the horse she was to ride -- named High Cotton -- out of the competition.
Lellie Ward decided not to bring Kalify to the competition because of an abscess on one of the horse's feet. Plus, several of her horses had been in an international competition in Canada just a few weeks ago.
"I'm trying to give my horses a little bit of a rest," she said.
While it was nice to see all competitors at Friday's rhythmic gymnastics competition received at least one medal, a couple of gold medal winners had to settle for a couple of IOU's in the form of blue ribbons.
Gold medals were in short supply at the event, which had some competitors winning five and four golds by themselves.
Event coordinator Cindy Bickman promised the girls they would receive their gold medals as soon as possible. The competitors, Kristen Smith and Melissa Hursey, showed no signs of disappointment when given Bickman's assurances.
Escaping the unrelenting heat at Burke County High School was nearly impossible, but thanks to a hospitality tent and an air-conditioned room, athletes were able to cool down between events.
The Georgia/South Carolina Baptist convention offers athletes and volunteers fresh fruit, water, Powerade and power bars in five hospitality tents in various Georgia Games venues. The heat index topped the 100-mark once again on Friday and the track and field participants in Waynesboro took full advantage of the cool amenities.
"(Refreshments) are there for them when they need it," said Mason Davis, associate missionary for Hephzibah-Kilpatrick. "We're not having any trouble with participation."
The Augusta Aquatics Center was expected to be a cool reprieve from the oppressive heat for Georgia Games spectators.
Hardly. Temperatures soared in the center for the swimming events, likely the most popular the Games has to offer.
Dr. Larry Wells, swimming coordinator, said the heat index neared 90 degrees Thursday afternoon.
"The doors were open a lot between the morning and afternoon sessions," Wells said. "With so many people coming in and out, it really got hot in there."
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