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12 December 2019 | in Summer World University Games, FISU Athletes

FISU Legends: Hannah Wilson recalls winning gold and setting PR’s at Summer Universiade 2019

For swimming champion Hannah Wilson, the Universiade experience was as much about competition as it was about camaraderie.

 

Wilson, who competes for Hong Kong internationally and owns several of its swim records, was actually a two-time Olympian before competing at the Belgrade 2009 Summer Universiade.

 

“Many of my university friends were there also competing,” she said.

 

“This made for fun times around the pool before, during, and after races. It’s always nice having friends to cheer for, congratulate and share memories with during competition. It was a fantastic experience with a great crowd cheering all athletes on.”

 

Wilson was raised in Hong Kong before studying at University of California, Berkeley. While competing in the NCAA she managed to fill her trophy mantle with several honours, including setting multiple school records and being named a 2008 All-American.

 

Wilson is one of the few NCAA athletes to have competed in the Olympics before starting her collegiate career, when she swam for Hong Kong in 2004 in Athens at just 15 years old. She then went on to compete in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, plus various other international meets. Wilson found that the Universiade stood out from other international events.

 

“The Universiade provides university students with an opportunity to compete against each other but for their countries,” she said.

 

“It was nice knowing that your competitors are also dividing their time between training and studying; levelling out the playing field a bit. Although I am sure that having the experience of competing in the Olympics helped me with my confidence when competing in Belgrade.”

 

Following the 2012 Games in London, Wilson decided to retire. Like many high-level athletes, it took her time to adjust to not competing on a frequent basis.

 

“It is such a lifestyle change and some find it hard feeling like they have a lack of purpose as they reached such a pinnacle and achieved so much in their sport and now it’s over,” she said.

 

“I went back to California to pack up the last of my belongings to bring them back home. I was only home for a few weeks before I went traveling around Europe for three months. During this period of time I absolutely loved not having a schedule, having no commitments or pressures, but I remember thinking, ‘Now what.’ As soon as I got home in December 2012. It suddenly hit me that I had to do something to make some money to start a new and different life.”

 

Wilson now teaches physical education back in Hong Kong, a job she “absolutely loves.”

 

She still fondly recalls her experience at the Belgrade 2009 Summer Universiade, remembering it for the camaraderie and competition.

 

“Winning two gold medals and breaking records in the Universiade is definitely the highlight of my career in terms of performance,” she said.

 

“I never beat those times again so I look back fondly at the Summer Universiade.”