21Jul09 Colorful Opening Ceremony at the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung

World Games Opening Ceremony (file photo)

The City of Kaohsiung with a population of 1.5 million, is located on the south west coast of Taiwan and facing Hong Kong over the horizon. The flags of 33 nations fluttered in the light breeze during the Opening Ceremony of the Waterski, Wakeboard and Barefoot World Games competitions. This was a far cry from the conditions of the previous weekend when a typhoon hit the Kaohsiung area. This caused major disruption to the many outdoor World Games sports and in particular canoe polo, which ultimately was switched indoors to a swimming pool.

Because of the weather last week, some minor delays followed in the set-up of the picturesque site here at the ornamental Lotus Pond. This is surrounded by a number of very popular tourist attractions including the giant Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, the Spring and Autumn Pavilions and the Confucius Temple. All overlook the competition site. The City of Kaohsiung has made a huge investment in cleaning up Lotus Pond in preparation for the Games. This involved emptying, dredging and cleaning the entire lake, investing over $2 million is grading the banks to prevent backwash, and refilling and restocking Lotus Pond with fish. This will certainly provide a wonderful legacy for the citizens of Kaohsiung after the World Games.

Jump Practice (file photo)

The Familiarization Programme began for the Barefoot Skiers with Slalom and Tricks. Shortboard Skiers came next. The Opening Ceremony then followed at 11.00hrs with 83 competing athletes lining up behind their country name boards and flags. Local Kaohsiung officials welcomed all the participants before Kuno Ritschard, President of the International Water Ski Federation, officially opened the competition.

The Familiarization Programme then continued with Tournament Slalom and Jump before the Wakeboard Riders completed their training as the sun set over Lotus Pond.

IWSF Chief Judge Dimos Alexopoulos of Greece, commenting at the end of the day said ?Training went well today and actually finished ahead of schedule. The equipment is ready and we are all set for four days of great action on the water which will present a great spectacle for the people of Kaohsiung. Our Waterskiers, Wakeboard Riders and Barefooters are now all ready for the World Games challenge?