Zenon Bilas has won his ninth U.S. Barefoot Water Ski National Championship gold medal at age 59.
At the Conroe, Texas, event held August 5-8, the athlete and wake-sports authority competed in the open men’s slalom category against competitors 40 years younger.
At 16, Bilas taught himself to waterski backward on bare feet. Four years later, he won his first gold medal at the 1982 Barefoot Water Ski National Championships.
“I’ve always taken a very analytical approach to my technique and how I train,” Bilas said in a statement. “It’s how I've continued to progress and compete at a high level while avoiding injuries."
The West Palm Beach, Fla., resident is an authority on tow-sports safety, a published author and professional speaker on the subject.
He is in training for next year's tournaments, including the Barefoot Water Ski National Championships and the World Masters Barefoot Championships.
“Barefooting, water-skiing, wakeboarding and wakesurfing are the best total mind-body workout that you can do,” he said.
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