University athletes set to soar

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2003, 12:00am

STUDENT athletes representing Hong Kong at this year's World University Games in Daegu, South Korea, are not only charged up and ready to compete, but also excited at the prospect of meeting counterparts from around the world.

The 83-strong delegation flies out this afternoon, anticipating two weeks of intense competition as well as fun.

South Korea is the perfect place to host the Universiade, said the two - and only - archery team members Pang Kar-hung and Chan Sze-man.

'South Korea held the soccer World Cup last summer, so they have good experience of organising a major event,' said Pang, a student at Polytechnic University.

Chan, a student at the University of Hong Kong, said: 'We're looking forward to staying in the athletes' village and getting to meet so many international athletes who are as serious about sport as we are.'

Women's volleyball player Iris Ng Yuen-ping, a student at City University, was impressed by the Beijing Games in 2001 which she attended.

She recalled: 'We met so many people. It was an unforgettable experience and I can't wait to do it again.'

The 22nd Universiade takes place in the south-eastern Korean city from August 21 to 31. After the Olympics, it is the largest multi-sports event. Around 11,000 athletes and officials will attend the Games, with 175 countries being represented in South Korea.

At the last Games in 2001, 6,655 competitors and officials from 163 countries took part. Hong Kong has attended the Games 10 consecutive times. The SAR has never won a medal, but three years ago, squash player Rebecca Chiu Wing-yin took silver at the World University Championships - a similar competition that includes sports not part of the Universiade.

The SAR will compete in nine events in Daegu.

The Universiade is a breeding ground for world champions of the future. American basketball star Larry Bird, Matt Biondi (US swimmer), Michael Gross (German swimmer), Greg Louganis (US diver), and Nadi Comanenci (Romanian gymnast) have all competed at past Games.