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11 February 2020 | in Summer FISU World University Games, FISU Athletes

Look back to Napoli 2019: Memories and medal for Canadian track star

For 2019 FISU medalist Nicole Hutchinson, the Summer Universiade was as much about camaraderie as it was about competition.

 

The Canadian runner, who won a silver medal in the women’s 5,000 metres, remembers her time in Napoli for more than just the thrill of racing in one of the world’s biggest athletics events.

 

“It was an amazing experience,” she fondly recalled.

 

“Getting to be in Italy for so long and staying on the cruise ships with the other athletes, allowed me to make tons of new connections, many of whom I'm still friends with. I'd never been to a multi-sport games, so getting to meet so many different types of athletes was a cool new experience. I explored Naples with my Canadian teammates, went boating with some Australian track-and-field athletes, and even played minigolf with a Brazilian swimmer!

 

Hutchinson, who had a decorated four-year NCAA career at Villanova that culminated in her winning the university’s Senior Student-Athlete of the Year award in 2019, finished her race in 15:48.06, less than three seconds behind Jessica May Judd of Great Britain to come in second place.

 

“The actual competition couldn't have gone smoother,” she said.

 Canada's Nicole Hutchinson (left) shares the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade podium after her silver medal performance with Jessica Judd (GBR, centre) and Julia Van Velthoven (NED) in the historic San Paulo Stadium

“I never in a million years thought I would be grateful to have heats and finals in a 5K--but I ended up being more nervous for the heats than the final! I think I warmed up about two hours before my heat to make sure I made the bus from the call room to the competition track. For the 5K finals, I had gone through it already, so it was easy!”

 

While track and field can be a solitary activity, Hutchinson appreciated the feeling of being a part of Team Canada.

 

“It’s such an individual sport, so the team mindset can get left behind while everyone focuses their energy on themselves and their own upcoming competition,” she said.

 

“Running for Canada though, there's definitely more of a sense of, ‘We're in this together,’ because you're not just doing it for yourself, you're doing it for your teammates and your country. All through the Universiade, everyone was out at the track cheering and going crazy for their teammates, both before and after their own races. When I won silver, the first thing I did was turn to my teammates in the stands and cheer, because it was a, ‘We did it,’ moment to me, not an, ‘I did it,’ moment.”

 

Since her memorable FISU experience, Hutchinson has moved to train in San Diego in the hopes of donning the maple leaf again.

 Hutchinson (left) watches the Canadian flag rise alongside the Union Jack and the flag of Holland as Gaudeamus Igitur plays, the anthem of international university sports after her silver medal performance in the women's athletics 5000M

“I think my proudest running accomplishment of my career is the silver medal that I won last summer at the Universiade,” she said.

 

“Getting the experience of winning a medal for my country is unparalleled, and something I hope to do again someday!”