Originally created 07/10/01

Torch passes through Augusta



The Georgia Games torch came through Augusta on Monday on its way to the championship games in Atlanta.

The torch came to Riverwalk Augusta at 5 p.m., brought by runners and cyclists from Georgia and members of the Augusta Striders. It was carried to riverwalk by Brooke Newman, a recent graduate of Lakeside High School.

"It's like you're bringing in excitement to the city," she said. "It gets everybody pumped for the Georgia Games."

Two torches traveled throughout the state, starting in Valdosta on Saturday and separating into east and west routes. Stops include a total of 27 cities.

The opening ceremony also honored two local amateur athletes, boxer Kevin Burnett and ultimate disc golfer Deirdre Walusis.

Mr. Burnett, 18, won the 2001 State Golden Gloves competition. He will be boxing in the Georgia Games for the first time next week.

"It feels good," he said. "I hope I'll be here next year to get another (award)."

Ms. Walusis was unable to attend.

Mayor Bob Young talked about next year's games, which will be in Augusta. Augusta previously was the host of the Georgia Games in 1999, the only other city besides Atlanta to hold the events.

"The next time you see that torch, it'll be coming here for the opening of the Georgia Games in Augusta next summer," he said. "That's really something to look forward to."

This year's Georgia Games in Atlanta will include 43 sports.

The games, which began in 1990, are open to anyone who wants to compete, not winners of district competitions, said Ms. Tammy Stout, the executive director of the Greater Augusta Sports Council.

"It's done for amateur athletes on the grass-roots level," she said.

The torch continued its trek to Sandersville and will meet up with the western torch in Gainesville on Friday, and the two will run together to Stone Mountain on Saturday for the state's opening ceremonies. The competitions will end July 22.

Reach Rebecca Whitehead at (706) 823-3340.