Chengdu Universiade | Xinhua Headlines: Sports unite global youth as Universiade draws to close-Xinhua

Chengdu Universiade | Xinhua Headlines: Sports unite global youth as Universiade draws to close

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-08-09 00:12:31

* Chengdu Universiade has provided a stage for 6,500 student-athletes from 113 countries and regions to excel, exchange goodwill and establish friendships.

* The concept of integrating sports and education has been increasingly recognized by the whole Chinese society.

* Chengdu aims to build itself into a hub for international sports events, with the 2024 Thomas and Uber Cup Finals and the 2025 World Games coming soon.

By sportswriters He Leijing and Chu Yi

CHENGDU, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The flame of Chengdu Universiade has been extinguished, bringing down the curtain on the sports gala that has knitted together the global youth to enliven and inspire the world.

After all 269 medal events had been decided, the closing ceremony concluded with a bang on Tuesday in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan province. The baton now has been passed to Germany, which will host the 2025 FISU World University Games.

The Chengdu Universiade stands out as it was the first international multi-sport event held in China after the pandemic and also provided a stage for a total of around 6,500 student-athletes from 113 countries and regions to excel, exchange goodwill and establish friendships.

FISU Acting President Leonz Eder delivers a speech during the closing ceremony. (Xinhua/Zhang Long)

FISU Acting President Leonz Eder declared the close of the 31st edition of the Universiade and highly praised the organizational work of the Chengdu event, saying "On the very beginning of our journey in China, we have been embraced with warmth and hospitality that words cannot fully express. We are truly grateful for the support of the Chengdu 2021 Organizing Committee, the Federation of University Sports of China, the government of People's Republic of China, Sichuan province, and the city and the people of Chengdu."


Asian countries set pace on the medal tally of the Universiade. As of August 8, host China has topped the list with 103 gold medals, followed by Japan and South Korea, with countries like India and Iran also achieving breakthroughs in specific events.

Cao Maoyuan of China competes in the Wushu men's Nanquan at the Chengdu Universiade, July 29, 2023. (Xinhua/Shen Bohan)

"The Chengdu Universiade gives me a stage to show the charm of Chinese Wushu, allowing more people to see and understand it," said Cao Maoyuan, who secured the first gold of the Universiade.

Japan's Kaya Kazuma claimed gold in the men's floor exercise of the artistic gymnastics. "I was happy but surprised to win the gold. The Universiade competitions have had a very positive influence on my future," he said.

Chinese swimmers made a splash in the pool winning 18 golds as world champions Zhang Yufei and Qin Haiyang showcased their strong presence. Zhang registered for nine events and grabbed nine golds.

"The Universiade deserves to be participated in, and this could be your once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete in such a Games," Zhang said.

Just like Zhang, who is from Southeast University of China, 411 student-athletes from different universities represented China in Chengdu, and over 80 percent of them have competed in an international multi-sport event for the first time.

Players of China pose for photo during the awarding ceremony of women's basketball at the Chengdu Universiade, August 5, 2023. (Xinhua/Yang Qing)

"They have to balance their studies and training in the games preparations, which is challenging," said Chinese women's basketball coach Li Sunnan, who led his squad to claim the title at the Universiade.

Athletes educated and trained at sports schools used to form the bulk of China's delegation, but the presence of non-professional athletes from ordinary universities has grown steadily in recent years, said Zhong Bingshu, a renowned school sports scholar in China.

Chinese universities have gradually become the cradle of elite athletes. China had dispatched 252 student-athletes from 72 universities in its contingent for Tokyo 2020.

East China's Jiangsu province sent 34 university athletes to participate in the Universiade, and except for sports colleges like Nanjing Sport Institute, more than half of the athletes came from comprehensive universities like Nanjing University and Southeast University.

China's Guo Yuhan hits a return during the tennis women's singles final against Yang Ya-yi of Chinese Taipei at the Chengdu Universiade, August 6, 2023. (Xinhua/Liu Lei)

"The systematic university education can not only help find and develop talents, but also use the scientific research resources to achieve better training for athletes," said Liu Tong, an official of Jiangsu provincial sports bureau. "That's something a sports department alone cannot do."

Guo Hanyu, a gold medalist in women's tennis from Southwest University, said the sports anatomy course she took during undergraduate period gave her a better understanding of the muscle structures and on how to maximize the effect of training. And in her graduate years, she chose a course in psychology. "My way of thinking and communication and my abilities to cope with difficulties have improved a lot thanks to my campus life," she said.

According to Li Hui, an official with State General Administration of Sport, the concept of integrating sports and education has been increasingly recognized by the whole society.

Zhang Bo, deputy of China's archery team, said that there are nearly 200 universities in China carrying out the sport of archery, and more than 500 university students compete in the annual national college archery competition.

Many cities in China have also encouraged primary schools to set up at least one PE class per day to ensure that students can have at least one hour of physical exercise at school daily. And the test results of specific sports have weighed in the evaluation for students' entry for higher education.

Su Yiming holds the FISU flag during the opening ceremony of the Chengdu Universiade, July 28, 2023. (Xinhua/Xu Bingjie)

Su Yiming, a gold medalist at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, has been successfully enrolled in Tsinghua University recently, as the top-ranked Chinese university stated that Su's sporting talents and will to take further education are in line with the university's diversified concept of talent training.

"More Chinese parents are willing to allocate more time to their children's sports activities, and local authorities have been taking actions to pave the way for a better combination of sports training and education in schools, including implementing favored policies towards students with sporting advantages in school enrollment," Li said.


Medals are not all that matters, especially at the Universiade which has created tear-jerking and heart-felt moments.

"I feel great to attend the Universiade and meet so many young lovers of martial arts," said Erbakan Akyuz, a Wushu contestant, from Turkey, adding that the youth across the globe can learn from each other and improve their sporting skills together at the Universiade.

Darya Latisheva of Uzbekistan competes in the Wushu women's Nanquan at the Chengdu Universiade, July 30, 2023. (Xinhua/Wang Xi)

The martial arts competitions proved to be a representative of melting pot of diverse cultures, with a number of foreign athletes selecting Chinese-styled music as their soundtrack.

"It is like a big global party, and we compete like playing games with friends. If you are better than me this time, I will congratulate you, and we can compete again next time," star swimmer Zhang said.

On July 28, Italian torchbearer Giordano Tudino proudly lit the torch plate, together with 30 others at the opening ceremony. "I firmly believe that the role of a torchbearer goes beyond merely passing the torch," Tudino said. "It represents a spiritual transmission, fostering solidarity, friendship, and the exchange of cultures."

Eder addressed at the closing ceremony, "Your successes and even your struggles are reminding us that it's not just about winning medals, but about a journey and friendships made along the way which might last for a long time."

Queen Sakala competes in a tennis match at the Chengdu Universiade. (Handout via Xinhua)

For Queen Sakala, a 23-year-old tennis player who had never left Zambia before, participating in the Chengdu Universiade has opened a new chapter in her life. "This is my first international travel, and I have an unforgettable experience here in Chengdu," she said.

Indian shooter Valarivan Elavenil was visibly touched on the awarding ceremony by an unexpected gesture on Aug. 2, when the entire audience joined together to sing "Happy Birthday" to her. "It felt incredibly heartwarming, and I want to thank everyone," said the 24-year-old.

Stories also came from the badminton gymnasium, where Chinese shuttler Tan Qiang presented a pair of new sneakers as gift to his opponent Welton Juvenal Menezes after finding the Brazilian's shoes were worn.

"He traveled so far to compete with such shoes. This shows how much love he has for playing badminton, so I gave him a pair of new ones, letting him feel the hospitality from a Chinese peer," Tan said, noting that he learned a lot from the Brazilian's passion and spirit.

Wang Zhengxing (L) presents a racket to Amos Muyanja of Uganda during the badminton men's singles round of 64 match at the Chengdu Universiade, Aug. 4, 2023. (Xinhua/Zhang Duan)

Amos Muyanja, a Ugandan badminton player was impressed by his opponent's help. When his only racket suffered a break of string during the men's singles competition, his Chinese counterpart Wang Zhengxing kindly offered him a new one to enable the 23-year-old to finish his game.

Friendships were forged strong among the athletes, according to Turkish table tennis player Ozge Yilmaz. "Every time we met athletes from different countries and regions, we exchanged pins. Sometimes we exchange T-shirts. It is a great occasion to make global friends."

Abundant cultural activities were staged in the Universiade Village, and the adorable pandas, spicy hotpot and magical face-changing performances have displayed rich local cultures for global visitors.

"The Chengdu Universiade gives students from all over the world a chance to communicate with the Chinese people and let the world see the real China," said Eric Saintrond, secretary general of the FISU.


"This is not only for the organizing committee's efforts but also an endorsement of Chengdu Universiade itself, and furthermore, a recognition of Chengdu," said Zhao Jing, director of the FISU Universiade, speaking of the  positive feedbacks on the Games.

A table tennis robot at High-tech Zone Sports Center Gymnasium in Chengdu, July 22, 2023. (Xinhua)

As the first city in western China to host a major international multi-sport event, Chengdu has spared no effort to present a creative Universiade which featured coffee-making robots, self-driving electric vehicles and state-of-the-art facilities.

According to the city's science and technology department, more than 170 high-tech products have been deployed at over 30 venues to create a smart and green Games.

Sports venues and other infrastructure are certainly the tangible legacies of the Universiade. All the 49 venues and facilities will be open to the public or allocated to universities for school sports development, said Cao Xuefeng, a member of the executive committee of the Universiade.

"China is one of the countries with the highest level of hosting events in the world, possessing high-quality sports venues and infrastructure, as well as passionate and professional volunteers," said Emiliano Ojea, founding president of the Argentinian University Sport Federation.

This photo taken on July 4, 2023 shows the Dong'an Lake Sports Park in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province. (Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing)

Chengdu aims to build itself into a hub for international sports events, and the experiences this vibrant city has gained in hosting the Universiade will evidently help it close in on that goal, as residents here can be seen engaging in various sports in parks, community centers, and under overpasses every day.

Last year, the total volume of sports consumption in Chengdu amounted to nearly 57.9 billion yuan (eight billion U.S. dollars), up 44.5 percent over 2018, and the total output of sports industry reached 100.5 billion yuan (13.9 billion U.S. dollars).

The city has built more than 200 community pilot projects and over 400 greenways for mass fitness. It also launches more than 5,000 public fitness activities every year, with the whole city's sport-prone population increasing to 9.4 million.

Chen Zhi, deputy director of Chengdu's Bureau of Sports, said that the city will seize the chances of organizing events like last year's World Team Table Tennis Championships, this year's Universiade, the 2024 Thomas and Uber Cup Finals and the 2025 World Games to gain more experience and build up its standing of world events host.

IWGA promotes the 2025 World Games in Chengdu on its website.

Chen said that the city aims to hold more international and national events every year after 2025. And at that time, more than 50 percent of its population can be expected to take regular physical exercises, with the sporting field per person reaching over 2.6 square meters.

In 2019, Chengdu won the bid to host the 2025 World Games, a multi-sport event staged by the International World Games Association (IWGA) under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee.

"Chengdu is a green, modern and well-prepared host city, and the World Games 2025 will be a great trampoline for the city with global roots," said Jose Perurena, president of the IWGA, on the sideline of the Universiade.

In Eder's view, the city is capable of organizing high-level international events, including the Olympics, with its quality venues and experience.

"It is a mid- and long-term strategy to build relations with international sports federations, which can further enhance the influence of Chengdu worldwide and boost the city's tourism," he said. 


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