Almost 6,000 athletes from 118 countries attended the 30th World University Games, held in Naples (ITA). Some 222 events were held in 18 sports and 68 countries won medals, led by:
1. 82 Japan (33-21-28)
2. 82 Russia (22-24-36)
3. 52 United States (21-16-15)
4. 50 South Korea (17-17-16)
5. 43 China (22-13-8)
6. 43 Italy (14-13-16)
The U.S. “team” was an odd mix, with some U.S. National Governing Bodies sending quality squads, such as USA Swimming and others essentially ignoring the event. USA Track & Field, for example, does not support the WUG and the entries were recruited by the coaching staff, appointed by an NCAA-sanctioned body called the U.S. International University Sports Federation (US-IUSF).
Of the 52 medals won by U.S. athletes in Naples, 40 were in swimming, and three (0-1-2) in track & field.
The United States Olympic Committee did support the WUG as an international event at which athletes could gain experience, but ended its interest in 2013 and the U.S. entries have been a hodge-podge of talent ever since. U.S. highlights from Naples:
In swimming, the U.S. sent its second team to Naples and overpowered the rest of the world, winning 40 total medals – including 19 golds – to 20 (6-6-7) for Japan and 18 for Russia. Among the highlights:
● Zach Apple of the U.S. moved to no. 4 on the 100 m Freestyle world list for 2019 with a 47.79 lead-off leg on the winning American 4×100 m Free relay. He won the 100 m Free as well (48.01), plus the 200 m Free.
● Zane Waddell (AUS) swam 24.46, now no. 3 on the year list in the 50 m Backstroke, but American Justin Ress won the final in 24.48 (fifth in 2019). Austin Katz of the U.S. won his semi of the 200 m Back in 1:55.57, fourth-best in 2019, and then won the final as well.
● Japan’s Yuki Ikari won the 400 m Medley in 4:12.54, making him no. 4 on the world list.
● Tatjana Schoenmaker (RSA) won her semi of the 100 m Breast in 1:06.32 to become no. 4 on the 2019 world list. She later won the final and took the 200 m Breast in 2:22.92.
American sprinter Gabby DeLoof won five golds, taking the 100-200 m Frees and then swimming legs on the winning 4×100 and 4×200 Free relays and the 4×100 Medley relay. Same for Apple on the men’s side, with five golds in the same events.
In basketball, the U.S. fielded two college teams: Clemson for the men and Mississippi State for the women. The Tigers had a tough time in the knock-out round, squeezing by Germany, 76-74, in the quarterfinals and then 75-73 against Israel in the semifinals. But in the gold-medal game against Ukraine, they had no such problems, winning by 85-63 to finish undefeated at 6-0.
Guard John Newman, a freshman in 2018-19, had 20 points and seven rebounds, and forward Aamir Simms had 12 points to lead Clemson, which piled up a 28-15 edge in the first quarter and was up, 48-23 at half and cruised home.
In the women’s tournament, Mississippi State won its preliminary games, then eased by China, 87-79, and Japan by 89-84 before running into Australia in the final. A tight game at halftime, the Aussies exploded for 29 points in the third quarter and had a 66-48 lead going into the final period. The Bulldogs outscored Australia, 24-14, in the final 10 minutes, but ended up settling for the silver medal, 80-72.
In track & field, the marks were fairly modest for the most part, but:
● Gabriel Constantino (BRA) won the 110 m hurdles in a very good 13.22, beating Wil Belocian (FRA: 13.30). Alison Santos (also BRA) won the 400 m hurdles in 48.57, bringing him up to fifth on the 2019 world list.
● Poland’s Konrad Bukowiecki won the shot put easily with a throw of 21.54 m (70-8), not too far from his seasonal nest of 21.97 m (72-1).
● Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk (UKR) won the women’s long jump at 6.84 m (22-5 1/4) just one cm behind her season’s best, which stands eighth on the world list for 2019.
In the sprints, Paulo Andre Camino de Oliveira (BRA) won the men’s 100 m in 10.09, and also took the 200 m in a life time best of 20.28. The women’s 100 was won in 11.32 by India’s Dutee Chand, the woman who initially sued the IAAF in 2011 over its regulations on differences in sex development.
In Artistic Gymnastics, Japan dominated, with Kazuma Kaya winning the men’s All-Around and Hitomi Hatakeda taking the women’s All-Around and also wins on the Uneven Bars and Beam.
In Rhythmic, Russia’s Ekaterina Selezneva (RUS) was a clear winner in the All-Around, with American Laura Zeng taking the bronze.
The complete results from Naples are here. The 2021 Universiade will be held in Chengdu (CHN).