Tuesday, 21st. August 2001

This is described as Jet Lag Day at our Ogata Waterski site here in Akita ! Blue skies, 28C/ 86Fh temperature and it’s been like that since 5.30am. Not a whisper of wind. NHK TV News woke us up with scary shots of the Typhoon which has hit the Osaka area about 800 miles to the south – but we have seen no signs of a cloud yet. Tomorrow could change all that but we may be lucky.

From 8.00am this morning, our Chief Judge, Dimos Alexopoulos was working flat out. Practice today for the selected Countries included Tournament, Barefoot and Wakeboard. They worked very well together. All Athletes were more than happy with conditions – good Barefoot water, good Tournament Ramp – and the Wakeboard Riders are just now on the water. We had our first chance to see South Africa’s Barefoot Star, Nadine De Villiers – the only woman in the World to complete an Inverted Jump – head first over the Ramp – awesome sight – and the holder of all three current World Barefoot Records. Watch out for Nadine’s name in the headlines to follow this week. We also saw the talented star, Hiroyuki Kurisawa – the holder of all three Men’s Tournament Records here in Japan – and Shinobu Okasaku the holder of Japan’s Ladies Slalom and Tricks Records. Shinobu has trained at the famous Jack Travers School in Central Florida. We may be lucky enough to see a new Japanese Record before this week is over.

Just in from the USA are the talented Rhoni Barton and Scott Smith. Scott has just recovered from a Ski Fly crash – ribs still sore - and Rhoni looks as fit as we have seen her anywhere. UK Team Manager, John Wood made sure that his team of Sarah Gatty-Saunt, Jason Seels and Will Asher were on the dock in plenty of time for their practice. The talented Russian Athlete, Elena Milakova, World Overall Record Holder, has just arrived from training in Spain. Elena also looks like she can change the record books yet again. No sign yet of our Athletes from Austria, Colombia, Italy, Switzerland Mexico and France. Their time on the practice water is tomorrow.

This evening, the Town of Ogata have kindly arranged a Welcome Party for all and this will give us a chance to bring everybody up to date with the hectic competition schedules for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Our Japan Waterski Association hosts could not have done any more to make this a very professional World Games for our Athletes and Officials. Their attention to detail is outstanding. We have also just heard that since the tickets for our Waterski event went on sale here last year – yes, they have been on sale for over eight months, they were the first of all 21 competing sports in the World Games to be totally sold out ! With over 30 million Waterskiers in the World today, I guess that this is not surprising. Just think of how many will show up when we get the final word from the IOC that we are in the Olympic Games !

Tomorrow is our next big test. Will that Typhoon hit this beautiful north west corner of Japan and spoil our last practice day ? Will we have to reschedule our Finals on Saturday ? Will we see a bunch of new Records at the Ogata site ? Our Chief Judge, Dimos Alexopoulos, has just told me that we will be heading for the Competition Site at 5.00am in the morning. Let’s hope it’s not in a boat !

Des Burke-Kennedy

World Games