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Home Events 12th Summer Universiade

12th Summer Universiade

Canada, Edmonton
01 Jul 1983 - 12 Jul 1983

Key Facts

73 Nations participating

2400 Athletes participating

10 Sports

The Summer Universiade made its way to North America for the first time in 1983, when the 12th edition of the World University Games were held in Edmonton, Canada, with a certain royal couple highlighting what turned out to be a hugely successful event.

With a crowd of 60,000 flocking to the Commonwealth Stadium for the Opening Ceremony, the Universiade was opened by Prince Charles, accompanied by Princess Diana, who captivated all of Canada during their first visit to the nation.

The entire stadium broke into a rousing chorus of happy birthday for Diana, who was celebrating her 22nd birthday that day, 1 July, which also happened to be the first Canada Day in the country’s history (prior to 1983 it had been known as Dominion Day).

The number of athletes who gathered in the capital of the province of Alberta totalled 2,400 from 73 countries, and some 19,000 volunteers helped stage a Games with significant funding from the private sector, which was a ground-breaking development for the university sports movement.

China had not been seen in huge numbers at an international meet since the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, but the Asian giant sent a party of close to 200 to Edmonton, which underlined the allure of a city that also hosted the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

The competition itself proved intense and exciting, lifted by the performance of the Canadian athletes who finished third on the medals table behind only the Soviet Union and their North American neighbours the United States. Alex Baumann stood out for Canada, sweeping the 200-metre and 400m individual medleys in the pool as a prelude to his gold-medal and world-record-setting heroics the following year at the Los Angeles Summer Games.

The Soviets – who topped the medal standings for the seventh consecutive Universiade – were dominant in the pool, spearheaded by Vladimir Salnikov. The Soviets captured 22 titles and shattered 18 Universiade records in Edmonton. The American campaign was powered by a pair of future NBA superstars, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone, while Greg Louganis took centre stage in diving.

On a tragic note, Soviet diver Sergei Chalibashvili died after hitting his head on the platform while attempting a reverse 31/2 somersault in the tuck position. He was 21 years old.