The Show-Me State Games were Melinda Kidder’s first local tae kwon do events competition when she moved to Columbia three years ago, and she has competed in it every year since.
Kidder is pleased the Games, which start Friday, are local so she can bring Boone, her 3-year-old daughter, with her. The competition is close enough to home that she does not have to worry about finding her daughter a place to rest.
The Games attract a number of Columbia athletes, as well as those from all around the state. Ken Ash, the Games’ executive directory, said Columbians make up about 10 percent of the estimated 28,000 participants in the finals. Kidder is one of many who has found competition in her city.
Kidder runs a martial arts school. She said the Games offer her students a place to compete and support one another like a team.
“It is nice for the students to be able to compete here and not have to travel so far,” Kidder said. “It is nice that it is local and local run by good people. They run a good tournament. I was always impressed. There are a lot of people from a particular style, but they are inclusive and try to make it open for everybody.”
Tina Bridges and Richard King Jr. say they like the location of the Games’ duathlon, which will be held July 25. King said he likes the local event better because he does not have to worry about finding a hotel and driving long distances.
“I live exactly a mile away from where (the duathlon) starts (in the LeMone Industrial Drive area), so that is a big advantage because I can go home and sleep,” Bridges said. “I don’t have to get up at 4 in the morning and drive somewhere.”
Bridges said King is faster than she, so he will wait for her at the finish line. Bridges and King train together regularly. King told Bridges the duathlon will be in their backyard, so they had to compete. The route of the duathlon is the same route they cycle, next to the Columbia Environmental Research Center, where they work.
“It is the course that I ride a couple times a week,” Bridges said. “So I know exactly where the little hills are and how long I have to go before I make a turn, so I think that I have that to my advantage, just because I know the course a little better.”
Other than being on their turf, Bridges and King said it was nice to have people out at the race whom they knew for support.
“It is nice at the finish line to have someone cheering you on, and to be able to hear, ‘Go Tina,’ ‘All Right Tina,’ or ‘Yeah Tina’ instead of ‘Go No. 427,’” Bridges said. “I have my friends out on the course and they can support me while I am out there, and you wouldn’t get that anywhere else.”
King and Bridges are in local running and multisport clubs, and King said that is where he learned about how much fun it could be to compete in a duathlon. This duathlon will be Bridge’s third duathlon and first time competing in the Games. This will be King’s first time competing in the duathlon in the Games. He has competed in cyclingand golf.
“We do have over 300 athletes in the multisport club, so you are going to know someone out there,” King said. “You hook up with these people and someone tells you how much fun something is and that you ought to try it. It kind of gets you pulled into it, so this year I decided to try the duathlon.”
King competes in the Games for fun. He said most people probably think of him as a competitive person, but he competes to meet a lot of people and have a good time.
Kidder and Bridges said there is good camaraderie when competing at a local event such as the Games.
“Everyone is really friendly, even during sparring you say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry’ if you touch their face instead of the gear or ‘Hey, how you doing?’ when you start to spar,” Kidder said. “You know it’s nice to have the competition, but it’s also good to make those friendships.”