September 16, 2006
Competitive polo is gaining momentum all across the globe...and Aiken is one of the most popular places to play.
Today, women from all over the world came to ride in Aiken's Ladies' Polo Tournament hoping to win the Campbell Cup.
"Aiken is booming," said director and participant Karen Reese. "It's a polo mecca. Aiken is evolving into the place."
And there are no signs of stopping this stampede in popularity. Women of all ages from all over the world met to compete for the Campbell Cup.
"I love riding horses. It's an adrenaline rush when you get to hit the ball or take a man out," said tournament MVP Maggie Doyle.
Spoken like a true champion, at only fourteen years old. The adrenaline is what helps her compete with others, like 30-year-old Sarah van Wyk.
"It's been great to come out and go somewhere different and come to Aiken," van Wyk said.
Van Wyk loves horses and polo so much that she came all the way from South Africa to play in this week's tournament.
"It started off very well, and then we've lost two game. And they've been good tough games. So it's been worth coming all the way to play," she said.
Van Wyk's team lost the tournament, and she won the sportsmanship award.
But these women say that for them, it's more than just winning.
"I think the love of horses makes a big difference, because horses are what keep me in the game," van Wyk said.
"Polo to me is all about the horses," Reese said. "It's like a special friendship--the more you take care of it, the better it works."
And van Wyk says playing here and losing is far better than playing at home.
"We play in winter back home, so our surfaces are always brown," she said. "These surfaces are just outstanding. I've loved every game and have had good horses, so I really have been spoiled. I had a lovely time. I'll definitely be back."
And that is just what the city of Aiken wants to hear.
New Bridge Polo and Country Club hosted today's tournament. It will also host a match tomorrow at four o'clock for the USPA Gold Cup.
The Gold Cup championship will be held October 1.