TAIPEI -- A total of 130 athletes in 13 sports will carry the country’s pride and honor in the 29th Summer Universiade, which opens in fitting ceremonies at the Taipei Stadium on Saturday.
Kazan Universiade veterans Marie Claire Adorna and Joy Rodgers and Gian Daniel Berino will lead the Filipino athletes under the Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines (FESSAP) who will march alongside 10,000 other athletes from 180 countries during the parade of nations.
Adorna, Rodgers and Berino will see action in the swimming competitions.
The Filipino athletes, who are being supported by San Miguel Corp., Bestank and Garfield Sportswear, will compete in 13 of the 22 sports in the 12-day calendar.
In all, 47 swimmers under the Philippine Swimming League (PSL) and five from the Visayas will carry the country’s medal hunt in the pool.
Also competing are 15 athletes in athletics, 12 in badminton, 10 in table tennis, eight each in judo and tennis, seven in wushu, six each in archery and taekwondo, four in weightlifting, three in golf, and one in diving.
Leading the Filipino delegation are FESSAP chairman Alvin Tai Lian, FESSAP president David Ong Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FFCCCI) honorary president and Philippine flag-bearer Angel Ngu, FESSAP official Christian Tan and San Miguel Corp. executive Col. Ariel Querubin.
Also present are PSL chair Sen. Nikki Coseteng and president Susan Papa.
Months before the grand opening ceremony, the entire Taiwanese nation, from President Tsai Ing-wen to Taipei City Mayor Wen-Je Ko to pop superstar Leehom Wang down to the hundreds of nameless student-volunteers have expressed their readiness “to welcome the world with open arms.”
“The Universiade is a sports festivity that allows young athletes to express their youth and energy, and to make their dreams come true,” said Mayor Ko on the eve of the formal opening of the prestigious event also known as the ‘Olympics’ of university athletes.
“After six years of preparations and thousands of tasks under the guidance of FISU, Taipei now hopes to provide a stage for the athletes to perform their best and at the same time to express the friendly, enthusiastic and energized message to the world, “ Mayor Ko said.
“I am confident that athletes from all over the world will feel like at home.”
The Taipei Universiade Organizing Committee (TUOC) said the spectacular, three-hour opening ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The Universiade flame will be ignited in the Taipei Stadium Cauldron in the most sacred way, marking the beginning of 2017 Universiade and a new page in Taiwan’s sports history.
The five torch bearers responsible for the honorable duty are outstanding athletes who have represented Taipei in international competitions.
The first four of them are Hung-Chieh Chiang, the table tennis men’s double gold medalist at the 2015 University Games in Gwangju, Tzu-Ying Tai, the first-ranked badminton player and the “badminton queen of Taiwan,”Ya-Ting Tan, an outstanding archer and the women’s team gold medalist at the 2015 University Games in Gwangju, Shu-Ching Hsu, a two-time weightlifting gold medalist in London 2012 and Rio 2016.
The identity of the fifth legendary athlete to light the flame and how the flame will be lit remain to be secret and promises to be the most exciting highlight of the opening ceremony.
Among the highlights of the opening ceremony are the passing and igniting of the flame, raising the flags of over 140 delegations, fireworks in city landmarks, image presented on super large screen on the ground, acrobatics in air, indigenous dance, Taiwan’s unique roadside banquets, Taipei pinball, hundreds of Gogoro scooters shows and percussion show on super large dining cars.
“We will present the fireworks from the grounds up with the way no one has ever seen before and it is guaranteed to take your breath away, “said project director Chien-Kuo Tu.
After Saturday’s opening ceremony, competitions will kick off in archery, baseball, basketball, diving, fencing, football, gymnastics, judo, swiming, taekwondo, volleyball, water polo and weightlifting.