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New Zealand team to World University Games

New Zealand team to World University Games

29 June, 2015

Sixty-six athletes from seven sports will be competing for New Zealand at the World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea as the action gets under way later this week.

Athletics, with 30 athletes, is sending its largest ever contingent to the Games and swimming is also sending a large team of 16. The New Zealand Team also includes athletes from table tennis, rowing, fencing and artistic gymnastics.

Included in the athletics team is Angie Petty, who finished fourth in the 800m and 1500m at the last Games in Kazan, Russia; Eliza McCartney, who won bronze in pole vault at last year’s junior world athletics champs, and double silver Commonwealth Games medallist Nikki Hamblin who will race the 1500m. Swimmers Kate Godfrey and Laura Quilter are among those returning to a World University Games after competing at the 2013 Games in Kazan. Rower Toby Cunliffe-Steel will be competing in his second Universiade regatta, after competing in the men’s lightweight double scull in 2013 where he finished seventh. This is the fourth time a New Zealand table tennis team has gone to the Games.

The World University Games is a major international sporting event that is held every two years for student athletes from around the world. This year more than 13,000 athletes from 141 countries will be competing in Gwangju for the 28th biennial event. This compares to around 10,000 competitors from 205 nations at an Olympic Games. In some sports, the competition fields will be tougher than at a Commonwealth Games as sporting powerhouses such as Russia, China and the United States send teams.

New Zealand Team Chef de Mission Christine Arthur says that for many athletes, the World University Games will be their first experience of competing at a multi-sport, international event. Some athletes will be aiming to use the Games as a stepping stone towards selection to senior world championships and Olympic Games.

``Competing at the Games is significant, as it closely resembles an Olympic Games,’’ Arthur, a two-time Olympian, says. ``For some of the athletes, this will be the pinnacle of their sporting careers and for others it will be a springboard to the Olympic Games.’’

The New Zealand Olympic Committee is managing the team and carrying out the logistics, as it has done for the two previous World University Games.

The New Zealand flag raising ceremony will be on Saturday 2 July, and the competition in Gwangju runs from 3-14 July.

At the 2013 Games in Kazan, New Zealand won one medal – a bronze by Brent Newdick in decathlon. At the 2011 Games in Shenzhen, China, New Zealand’s tally was 12 medals – all in swimming.


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