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18 September 2020 | in Summer FISU World University Games

Spotlight: Remembering the Buffalo 1993 Summer Universiade

Football icon Mia Hamm honed her elite skills as a standout player for the North Carolina Tar Heels and competing for the USA at the Buffalo 1993 Summer Universiade before twice earning the FIFA World Player of the Year distinction

The Buffalo 1993 Summer Universiade was the first to be hosted by the United States, despite the country having been affiliated with FISU since 1957.

 

The event, known for this edition as the World University Games, came to life in dramatic style with an Opening Ceremony attended by over 80,000 people and watched by even more people around the world thanks to broadcasts on ESPN in the US and Eurosport in Europe.

 

The hosts spared no effort in making sure the 5,150 participants from 117 countries were well taken care of. No fewer than 15,000 volunteers were drafted in to assist with the Games, which saw eight new Universiade records set, all in the swimming pool. Four of those were set by Americans, who won 73 medals in total while neighbouring Canada secured 38 medals of its own.

SU1993 Buffalo RowingWith the Summer Universiade making its inaugural edition in the USA, the Americans put together an All-Star group of competing collegians across a range of sports, crew included.

With future NBA legends Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Kevin McHale on their team, the Americans were heavy favourites to win their third Universiade basketball crown in a row. The holders would not disappoint, beating Canada in a hard-fought final 95-90.

 

Expectations were also high for the US baseball team, which was coming off a second-place finish at an international tournament in Europe. But after opening losses to Japan, Canada, and Cuba, the hosts failed to even reach the podium. Cuba went on to win gold, with South Korea and Canada finishing second and third, respectively.

SU1993 Buffalo Cuba BaseballCuba slugged their way to the gold medal in baseball at the Buffalo 1993 Summer Universiade

The crowds turned out in droves to see the elite-level competition, which featured the likes of six-time Olympic champion gymnast Vitaly Sherbo of Belarus and two-time champion Tatiana Lysenko of Ukraine. In the end, some 30 Buffalo 1993 alumni would go on to win medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

 

The surprise nation of the Buffalo Universiade was the People’s Republic of China, which took 17 gold medals, second-most after the US. Japan finished third overall with a medal haul of 30, a good omen for the next Universiade in Fukuoka in 1995.

 

FISU saw its membership grow by 17 countries in Buffalo, most of which were newly independent of the break-up of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. In total, 42 countries received financial aid from FISU and the IOC to participate at the 1993 Universiade.

Su1993 Buffalo LadyLibertyThe Universiade Flame makes its way to the most iconic of vantage points before the start of the Buffalo 1993 Games with a visit to the colossal Statue of Liberty on Manhattan's Liberty Island