September 17, 2006
The Gold Cup Polo Championship is in full swing in Aiken. Fans attending today's game got a glimpse of all the fast paced action...and even got to see the best polo player in the world.
"I think I may know the best player in the world just a little bit," said polo player and fan Malia Bryan. "His name is Cambiaso and he's playing in the Gold Cup."
31-year-old Adolfo Cambiaso is considered the best polo player in the world, and Bryan strained to catch a glimpse of the master who came all the way from Argentina.
"Aiken has become home to some of the top players in the country," said Sarah Eakin, co-chair of the Aiken Polo Festival.
And for the second year in a row, it's home to one of the top polo titles in the country: the Gold Cup.
"I think USPA gave it to Aiken as a gesture to put Aiken on the map," Eakin said. "Give us recognition as a polo center in the US. And it certainly done that for Aiken."
It's a sport that dates back 2,000 years and is played in 84 countries. Over 20,000 Americans play, and Aiken is now a bona fide hub for the game.
"You know, if you build it, they will come...and that's what has happened here in Aiken," said Eakin.
The Gold Cup will move on next year, but Aiken will host the final event of the Triple Crown of polo, which will be shown on ESPN.
"The Gold Cup has started us off and now we hope the Triple Crown will take us forward," Eakin said.
And six-year-old Malia hopes the same.
"There are some people who haven't even seen polo, but that's okay because they're going to see it one day," she said.
That one day could be today as big tournaments are played in our own backyards.
All Gold Cup Polo events are played at New Bridge Polo Fields.
General admission tickets are $10 for parents and children. No pets are allowed.
Games for the Cup continue every Thursday and Sunday until the finals on October 1.