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Stories from Chengdu – Does Chengdu really make dreams come true?

Summer Games 5 September 2023
Xia Yuyu (CHN) winning a gold medal in women's 10,000m

The FISU World University Games are much more than a competition. They bring people from different parts of the world together.

Most of the time we focus on the athletes and the competition, but we often forget about the real MVPs of the Games.

Those are the ones who give up hours of their time to make these events happen, or those who fill the stands and support the athletes in the competitions of their lives – fans, volunteers and so on. They are also the ones that sacrifice and balance their dual careers of study and sport.

Chengdu volunteers Headline

Yunjing Yang is one of the many volunteers who worked at the Chengdu FISU World University Games.

“Just being involved in the Games was amazing,” said Yunjing. “We had different preparations before the competition started to make sure everything ran smoothly,” she explained about the process before the Chengdu FISU Games.

“Meeting many people from all over the world and making new memories,” is what she shared as her favourite moments.

Qingqing Zou was an English-speaking announcer for the wushu events at Chengbei Gymnasium.

“I still remember the first day,” she said. “Of course I was nervous, but that’s part of it. The first medal of the Games was in a Wushu event and that made everything special. It was really a dream.”

The volunteers’ hard work was much appreciated by the athletes.

“I think the volunteers made us feel at home,” said Farnanda Celidonio from Brazil. “Even learning some of our language and saying ‘bom dia’ and other Portuguese words is so warming.”

Whether this was their first time at a FISU Games or if they have competed previously, one thing all student athletes have in common is the amount of time they spend training and studying.

As a result, students often find themselves in an awkward position. Study or sport?

It’s hard to choose between the two, and there is also pressure to be good at one or the other.

Those who take part in the FISU Games are an example that if you want something, anything is possible.

“I have classes in the morning and I have to do other activities for my studies in the afternoon,” explained Chinese athlete, Xia Yuyu. “I use every possible minute to train,” continued the Tsinghua University student.

“I feel that all the hard work has paid off,” added the three-time medallist at the Chengdu FISU Games, including her gold in the women’s 10,000m race.

Patricia Cara Feain Ryan (AUS) winning a gold medal in women’s 3000m steeplechase

“It’s a wonderful balance between sport and pursuing an educational career,” said Patricia Cara Feain-Ryan on the significance of the FISU World University Games.

The Australian athlete’s dreams came true when she won gold in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase.

“It’s a great stepping-stone from being a younger athlete to being a senior athlete and competing at a higher level,” added the 24-year-old University of Queensland student. “It’s special to be competing here with a high level of students. Chengdu really did a good job.

It seems that the slogan of the Chengdu FISU Games really has the right meaning. Not only for those competing, but also for those volunteering.

And to finally answer the question – yes, Chengdu does make dreams come true.

Written by Miha Trošt, FISU Young Reporter