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06 November 2020 | in Summer FISU World University Games

Spotlight: Remembering the Palma de Mallorca 1999 Summer Universiade

Take a stroll through memory lane as student-athletes head to the longtime resort city and capital of the Spanish Iberian island for the 20th Summer Universiade

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Palma de Mallorca 1999 was the final Universiade overseen by long-standing FISU President Dr. Primo Nebiolo, who passed away later the same year.


The Universiade, which for the first time saw over 6,000 participants (4,076 athletes and 1,933 officials), also coincided with FISU’s 50th anniversary, providing Nebiolo with an opportunity to look back on how much the organisation had grown over the 40 years he was involved with it.


SU99 Palma Nebiolo Torch relay“When I look at these figures, I can’t help comparing them to those of the first Universiade, organised in my beloved city of Turin exactly 40 years ago,” said Nebiolo, who over the same period had gone on to become one of the most influential figures in the world of sport, simultaneously presiding over the IAAF and ASOIF while also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI).


“I was the president of the Organising Committee and we were so delighted to be able to count on the participation of 982 student-athletes and 422 officials from 45 countries,” he continued. “And here we are today, with for the first time more than 4,000 athletes present. And we easily have more than 120 countries. All this underscores how our movement has grown in importance.”


Palma 99   001In fact, FISU had grown to 127 member countries just prior to the start of Palma de Mallorca 1999. Fourteen new members were admitted during that year’s General Assembly: Angola, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Comoros, Denmark, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Kenya, Macao, Micronesia, Uganda, Palestine and Tajikistan.


On the field of play, it was American Mark Warkentin who shone brightest during the Universiade. Warkentin took home four golds in swimming, winning the 200m, 400m, 800m and 4x200 metre events. Paradoxically for the open-water specialist who would go on to represent his country in the 10-km race at Beijing 2008, the only event he failed to win in Parma de Mallorca was the longest -- the 1,500m -- where he finished fourth.


“What happened to me here is fantastic,” Warkentin said. “I am very moved every time the American flag is raised. I had only really ever seen that on television, and it really affects me.”


Also of note: For the first time in history, a football final was played on synthetic turf. Spain beat Italy 1-0 in sudden death to claim the title.

Palma Flag