Universiade: A once in a lifetime experience

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SUSAN PAPA

SUSAN PAPA

The 2015 Summer World Universiade held in Gwangju, South Korea in July has drawn the largest numbers of athletes, coaches and officials making it the world’s the biggest sporting event for college student-athletes.

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A total of 13,000 athletes and officials attended the Gwangju Universiade, surpassing the 11,759 participants in the 2013 edition held in Kazan, Russia.

One of the blessed swimmers who saw action in the Universiade was Annyka Frances Beatriz Dela Cruz from Kalibo, Aklan. She is a third year Bachelor of Science in Food Technology student at University of the Philippines-Visayas in Iloilo.

This is her story, which she described as a once in a lifetime experience:

“I had already decided, that by the end of my high school life, I would finally bid my swimming career a bitter farewell once and for all. That was the time when I started to consider my priorities during my college life and unfortunately, swimming wasn’t able to transcend the importance of my studies. It had never occurred to me that despite the goodbye and the attempt of detachment, it would still lead to a great opportunity.

Three months ago, the Philippine Swimming League (PSL) had opened yet another door for me despite my attempt to close one.

The Summer Universiade was held in Gwangju. More than 10,000 college and university students from approximately 180 countries around the world joined this international event.

I, by God’s grace, was one of these blessed and thankful participants.

Annyka Frances Beatriz Dela Cruz at the 2015 Summer World Universiade held in Gwangju, South Korea. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Annyka Frances Beatriz Dela Cruz at the 2015 Summer World Universiade held in Gwangju, South Korea. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

“Excellence in Mind and Body” is the motto that the Universiade stands by. Not only were we able to see the beauty of rivalry, but also the importance of sportsmanship and resiliency. There, we were treated as equals. Other countries pegged us as something to look out for, something to consider as a significant competitor. The idea of us being taken seriously, made us feel confident about our sport and our events. But through time, we were able to make friends with our opponents. We saw how their hard work and perseverance brought to where they are now. We were inspired by our rivals. They pushed to our limits to become better competitors, and that is saying something.

Even the officials that volunteered for the said international event were welcoming. Through their heartwarming accommodation, we felt as if we were hailed as high individuals, as if we were royals. We were given free transportation around Gwangju, a free 24-hour buffet (which I extremely miss) and we gained a lot of friends from other countries.

We were able to see cultural events and participate in tours.

It was my first time abroad and I can truly say that it was one heck of an experience to be able to go out of the country for the first time and represent it in a competition.

Representing not only your school, your team, but also your country is one radiant and honorable moment. It is an experience that cannot be traded for anything else – an experience I would gladly repeat if given the chance.

Through this event, college and university students all over the world will be granted the chance to mold themselves after the ideals of the Universiade. Relating this to my experience, I can honestly say that my outlook on life has been changed for the better by this once in a lifetime experience. That is why, right now, I would like to encourage everyone especially every aspiring athlete to never be contented with the present achievements that you have accomplished. There are bigger goals that you can attain. Setting your bars high will lead you to achieve to higher accomplishments,” Annyka narrated.

Last week, while I was in Kalibo, Aklan for the 84th PSL National Series, Annyka revealed her intent to participate together with her brother Emmanuel, in the 29th Universiade 2017 to be held in Taiwan.

PSL swimmers are fortunate to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity to compete with Olympians and best swimmers in the world.

Indeed, World Summer Universiade is a lifetime experience that other swimmers are missing.

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