Universiade (Aug. 8): Canadian flag raised at Shenzhen Athletes’ Village
Photo credit James Keogh, University of Victoria
SHENZHEN, China (CIS) – Close to a hundred Canadian student-athletes got their first taste of the 26th Summer Universiade on Monday morning when the country’s flag was officially raised at the Athletes’ Village in Shenzhen.
Canada was one of five nations to take part in the ceremony along with Azerbaijan, Cameroun, Nicaragua and the United Kingdom.
“The flag-raising ceremony really kicks off the Universiade,” said Canadian chef de mission Peter Baxter. “For a lot of our student-athletes, it was their first time wearing the red and white uniform. A lot of them have never been to a major international Games before and I think they now have a better grasp of the magnitude of the Universiade.”
The Summer Universiade is the second largest multisport event in the world, trailing only the Olympics. Close to 9,000 athletes from over 150 countries will compete at the 2011 Games from Thursday until Aug. 23.
The women’s and men’s soccer teams get things started for Canada on Thursday, both against Great Britain at 4:30 p.m. local time (4:30 a.m. Eastern).
“It is great to finally be on site and for our players to see the Canadian flag raised on their first morning in the village,” said men’s basketball head coach Kevin Hanson, whose squad was one of six Canadian teams represented at the ceremony.
The University of British Columbia sideline boss, who led Canada to Universiade bronze in 2003 in South Korea and to an eighth-place finish in 2005 in Turkey, expects tough competition for his young side.
“We only have one player with Universiade experience and two with significant international experience. And we’re in a very competitive pool with defending champion Serbia,” said Hanson. “This is truly a development team. However, we just had a very productive mini-camp in Vancouver, and of the three teams I’ve brought to FISU Games, this is the hardest working.”
Canada placed ninth in men’s basketball two years ago in
Belgrade and has captured eight Universiade medals in the sport
over the years including its lone gold in 1983 in Edmonton.
A total of 246 Canadian athletes will compete in 20 sports in Shenzhen hoping to surpass the 15-medal tally (2-7-6) from 2009.