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18 December 2020 | in Summer FISU World University Games

Spotlight: Remembering the Izmir 2005 Summer Universiade

An Estonian university sports legend makes his appearance on the world stage as the Turkish men’s volleyball team delights the home crowd as Izmir hosts the first Universiade along the Aegean Sea


The 23rd Summer Universiade was held in the City of Izmir, Turkey, on the shores of the Aegean Sea. It was the first time the FISU World University Games had taken place in Turkey, and by all accounts, the event was a tremendous success.


Izmir openingTwo former mayors of Izmir, Ahmet Piristina and his successor Aziz Kocaoglu, had a strong vision for the Universiade, seeing it as a bridge to a successful future for the city and region. As such, no expense was spared to pull these Games off. Nine new sports complexes were built, while many others were renovated. As a result, the town is now a leading sports destination in the area, and has hosted international basketball, fencing, taekwondo, and volleyball championships, to name a few, since the Izmir 2005 Summer Universiade.


Turkish athletes did their country proud, especially in the optional sports of taekwondo and wrestling, where they won a combined 15 medals. The Turkish men’s volleyball team also took gold, paving the way for an eighth-place finish in the medals table (10 gold, 11 silver, 6 bronze).


Smashing the record established at the Beijing 2001 Summer Universiade, 5,338 athletes competed at Izmir 2015. More than 1,000 athletes from 113 countries did so in athletics, one of whom would win gold and then go on to even greater glory on and off the field of play. Gerd Kanter, the Estonian discus thrower, took the top spot on the podium with a throw of 65.29m. The following year he became vice-champion of Europe (68.03), in 2007 he became World Champion (68.94), and the year after that he won Olympic gold at the 2008 Beijing Games (68.82).


Kanter, the current Athletes’ Commission Chairman and Ex-Officio of the Executive Committee at the European Olympic Committees, has fond memories of his time in Izmir and the gold medal that began his rise to global glory.


“Some of my fondest memories in sport came while competing during my university studies,” said Kanter, who was named Estonian athlete of the year in 2007, 2008 and 2011. “I’m a strong believer and proponent of dual-career athletes and pursuing studies alongside one’s elite athletic career.”

Izmir cityscape

For the second time, a Fair Play award was given to the athlete who exhibited outstanding sportsmanship. Turkish-Canadian Yasin Kaya, who was born in Izmir, won the award after he participated in the men’s wrestling despite suffering an injury in training.


Having looked forward to competing in the same sports hall he trained at during his youth, he was on the verge of tears when he took to the mat against Georgia’s Shalva Gadabadze, a match the injured Kaya was sure to lose. Following the match, Kaya took the flags of Canada and Turkey and apologised to the audience for being unable to give his best performance, a gesture that was met with a thunder of applause.