Leah Upshaw is accustomed to competing in racquetball tournaments, but she normally has to travel to events.
As she prepares to play this week, though, she will get to sleep in her own bed, and dreams of gold medals will be dancing through her head.
The Evans resident is defending racquetball champion in the Women's Open division of the Georgia Games Championships, which were held in Atlanta last summer.
The Georgia Games now makes its second visit to Metro Augusta, and will begin Friday and continue through July 21.
Upshaw is set to defend her title in the racquetball competition, which will be held Friday and Sunday at Patriots Park.
Being on her home turf definitely is a bonus.
"Defending my title might add a little bit of pressure, but I welcome the competition," Upshaw said. "Now it's my chance to be host. We can hang out around here and I can show them around town."
The Georgia Games opening ceremonies will start 6 p.m. Friday at Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
The nine-day Olympics-style sports festival features competition in 40 different sports, and is expected to attract more than 10,000 athletes of all ages and skill levels.
Like the Olympics, Georgia Games athletes vie for gold, silver and bronze medals.
World records might not be shattered during the Georgia Games, but there will be plenty of talent on display.
"You just never know who's going to show up," Upshaw says.
The Georgia Games began in 1990, and were originally formed as preparation for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. The Georgia Games have been held in Atlanta every year expect 1999, when the event debuted in the Augusta area.
A few things have changed since '99 - the schedule was extended from five to 10 days for the 2001 games, which allowed more flexibility in the scheduling of events.
Also, a few venues have changed. For instance, Patriots Park played host to girls softball in '99, but this year the softball competition will be staged at Augusta's Diamond Lakes Regional Park, which opened in November of '99.
Patriots Park lost girls softball, but with the completion of the Patriots Park Gymnasium Complex in 2000, the Columbia County site has secured the Georgia Games racquetball competition this year.
In all, Columbia County will play host to 10 events during the Georgia Games.
Some local athletes will gladly cross county lines in an attempt to bring home the gold.
Dennis Moberg of Martinez will compete in the Mountain Biking event at Augusta Canal Park July 21. The 51-year-old is looking for a strong showing, because he believes the Georgia Games are more than just fun and games.
"Having a competition like this gives you something in the future to work for," Moberg said. "It's nice to exercise with some sort of goal in mind."
Georgia Games Championships
Columbia County venues and events
At Patriots Park
Archery: Saturday, 10 a.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. shotgun start
Disc golf: July 20, 10 a.m.
Judo: Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m.
Racquetball: Friday and Sunday
Tae Kwon Do: Saturday, 10 a.m.
Ultimate Frisbee: July 20-21, noon.
At Gymnastics Gold
Girls Artistic Gymnastics: Saturday and Sunday
At Lakeside High School
Lacrosse: Saturday, 10 a.m.
At Evans High School
Rugby: Sunday, 8:30 a.m.
At Wildwood Park
Triathlon: July 21, 8 a.m.
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