Originally created 07/25/99

Georgia Games notebook: Games not without glitches

Track-and-field competition has run rather smoothly the first two days of competition, but it hasn't been free of adversity.

When volunteers and organizers arrived at the Burke County High School stadium Friday, they found the public address system blown out. Fortunately, school maintenance workers labored to repair it and came up with a temporary solution.

Then, shortly after lunch Saturday, the electronic timing system malfunctioned and after about a 30-minute delay, volunteers fixed the system without any of the track events being delayed.

Because of a heat index that exceeded 110 degrees at about 3:15 p.m. Saturday, the Georgia Games Committee issued a yellow alert and postponed the running of the 800-meter run to 6:30 p.m.


The wrecking ball still was being taken to the records Saturday and, as usual, Mujahid El-Amin was the one doing most of the damage.

The 12-year-old from Atlanta continued to make the Augusta Aquatics Center his personal stage Saturday, breaking the state record set by himself in the 50-meter butterfly of the 11-12 age division.

His pass of 28.16 also was faster than the national record of 1998, set by Hong Zhe Sun of Hawaii. The all-time record for the 11-12 age group in the 50 butterfly is 27.43, which has stood since 1983.


For playing host to Saturday's Georgia Games wrestling championships, Lakeside High School got more than a chance to boost amateur sports in the state.

With a $13,000 state grant, the school purchased a new mat and other equipment that will be used by for Lakeside's wrestling program after the Games end, Principal Julius McAnally said.

The mat, emblazoned with a Georgia Games logo, ensures that the Games leave a lasting legacy at Lakeside, even if the event never comes to Augusta again.

"That (logo) stays out there," McAnally said.


Keeping hydrated was the top priority at Newman Tennis Center on Saturday. Event coordinator Dick Hatfield said athletes had consumed more than 50 gallons of Powerade and 20 cases of bottled water.

Hatfield said he hadn't seen any serious heat-related illnesses, despite the extreme temperatures. He said there were a few no-shows, which didn't surprise him.

"If you're not a tournament-type player, the heat is very discouraging," Hatfield said.

Fans that blew steady mists of water surrounded Augusta Soccer Park.

Children and adults firmly planted themselves in the water, cooling off from the scorching sun. Many people soaked towels to put on their heads and drank plenty of fluids to prevent heat exhaustion.


The Hart family may be starting a local BMX dynasty. Father Philip Hart, 32, was one of the Southeast's top riders during the early to mid-1980s. At one time he was the state's No. 4 rider in the 17-year-old and older class.

He got married and traded in his bike for a job at the local Kimberly-Clark plant. But now, two of his three children, daughter Ashley, 7, and son Ryder, 5, have started racing at events across Georgia and South Carolina.

Although Ashley didn't place in the top three Saturday, Ryder did manage to get a bronze in the 5-and-under beginner class.

However, the Harts' oldest daughter, Nancy, 9, isn't interested in BMX.

"She has made it very clear she doesn't like to sweat," said her mother, Cathy Hart.


While the number of athletes in this year's Georgia Games is a big point of scrutiny, participation in girls gymnastics is right on track when compared to Atlanta in 1998, said event coordinator Denise Jessen.

The two-day gymnastics competition has 215 athletes participating, and 20 gymnastics teams from all around the state are represented, Jessen said.

Teams from Statesboro, Oglethorpe, Savannah, Marietta, Jekyll Island and Augusta, to name a few cities, all were on hand for the Games.


Despite the fact that Saturday's Georgia Games Olympic weightlifting event attracted a mostly young crowd of competitors, Bill Thaggard was determined to succeed.

"I was set on doing my best, but even I was surprised at how well I did," said Thaggard, the event's oldest competitor at 65. "I did 45 kilos and that's not great. But, still, it's not too bad for an old man."

Thaggard competed in the 62 kilogram weight class and won a gold medal by lifting a total of 100 kilograms, which combined both his snatch and clean-and-jerk results.

"It's been at least a year since I lifted that much," he said after the event. "This is something I really enjoy doing because it's fun and it keeps me in shape. And I'll tell you what, it also sure beats sitting at home and watching TV."


Aiken's John Whinnery, 85, is one of the oldest competitors in the Georgia Games. His name was incorrectly given by Georgia Games officials Friday. He is competing in the masters division of track and field today at Burke County High School, throwing the javelin and discus.


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