World University Games 2013
by Physiotherapy London’s Kessie Soper (GB Team physio):
The biennial World University Games represents the pinnacle of student sport. Being the second largest multisport event only to the Olympics, it showcases a truly world class standard of sport. This year’s event saw 10,442 athletes from 162 nations compete in 27 sports in Russia’s sporting capital of Kazan, in the central state of Tatastan.
Team GBR consisted of 160 athletes and staff. The mood was high when we arrived at the athlete’s village- what would become our home for the upcoming 2-3 weeks. The Russian’s provided fantastic facilities and the athletes village contained everything you could possibly need- accommodation, laundry, shops, entertainment areas, hairdressers, beauty salons and the epic dining hall complete with complimentary McDonalds (this of course tested the will power throughout).
I was working with the GBR swimming team, although it was very much a united Great Britain team, which meant that I also got to work with some of the other sports teams when needed. The swimming venue was particularly impressive, and will host the World swimming championships in 2015.
Each day generally consisted of an early morning session of either training or competition followed by an afternoon/evening session, with lunch and treatments in between. It involved long days, but was well worth it- with the swimming team bringing home 3 bronze medals! Team GBR also achieved gold in Women’s football, silver in men’s football and bronze in men’s rugby 7’s, rounding off a successful games. Russia literally blew away the medal table- raking in 292 medals, with the closest rival China lying in second with 77. Despite some questioning of Russia’s definition of student, the attendance of countless Olympic champions only raised the overall level of competition and our developing athletes were excited to compete against the world’s best.
Other highlights included the opening and closing ceremonies, which were attended by over 80,000 people and for which the Russian’s pulled out all the stops. Marching into the main stadium waving our GB flags is a truly spine tingling experience. For me, it was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed and will never forget. I’m looking forward to the next world university games in Gwangju!