The 2019 FISU Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy finished in spectacular style as the Closing Ceremony officially ended the 12-day celebration of university student sport
More than 35,000 spectators attended the closing in a sold-out San Paolo Stadium which paid tribute to the athletes and volunteers that made the games so unique.
Following the ceremonial passing of the Universiade flag from Napoli to Chengdu, host of the Summer Universiade in 2021, the closing concluded with an incredible party that will live long in the memory of the athletes and fans in attendance.
In his final address, FISU President Oleg Matytsin praised the athletes’ performances and their impact on future generations:
“Throughout Napoli and the Campania region, there are so many young Italians who have been inspired by what they have seen here.
“Now these young Italians, proud of their country and their national teams, want to wear the blue of Italy. In the same way, we hope they are inspired to go to university and make sport a vital part of their lives.”
With 300,000 tickets sold over the 12 days, Naples has embraced the university sports movement and left a legacy that will benefit generations for many years to come. The renovation of many of the Universiade venues, including the Piscina Scandone and Mostra D’Oltremare, and the purpose built fencing hall at the University of Salerno Sports Centre will continue to serve as world class facilities for the residents of the Campana region.
“Celebrating our 70th anniversary, we wanted to make Napoli 2019 truly unique,” added President Matytsin. “The passion and enthusiasm from the city of Napoli has made sure that we have achieved our goal. I want to thank everyone, from the athletes and volunteers to the organisers and public authorities for creating such a special Universiade.”
Earlier in the day, Italy ended a wait of 49 years to finally win the men’s volleyball gold medal on home soil yet again. The last time Italy had won gold in the event was at Turin 1970 and in front of a passionate home crowd, the hosts made up for lost time by beating Poland 3-2 (16-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-23, 15-10) in a nail-biting final at the PalaSele in Eboli. In the bronze medal match, Universiade powerhouse Russia beat France in straight sets 3-0 (25-18, 25-20 and 25-22).
In fact there was double gold joy for Italy on the last day of action as they also secured the final medal of the Universiade thanks to their men’s water polo team securing gold by beating USA 18-7.
Italy were perhaps slight favourites heading into the final having eased through the last two rounds, beating Russia 14-6 in the semi-finals and defeating France 15-9 in Wednesday’s quarter-finals. USA meanwhile were forced to battle right until the very end in their 12-9 semi-final victory over Hungary and their 12-11 quarter-final win against Croatia. And it turned out to be a memorable night for the Italians as buoyed by the home support at the Piscina Scandone they justified that favouritism by cruising to victory.
The men’s bronze medal match saw Russia and Hungary play out a thriller with the final score being 10-10. Hungary then came out on top in an epic 13-12 penalty shootout victory.
A total of 24 Universiade records were broken across the 12 days of competition which ended with Japan and Russia finishing joint top of the medal table. Other notable highlights included Dutee Chand winning India’s first Universiade gold in the women’s 100 metres, Zachary Apple and Gabrielle DeLoof’s respective five-gold hauls in the pool for the USA, and two-time Italian Olympian Carlotta Ferlito delighting the home crowd with her gold medal-winning floor routine.
The next edition of the Winter Universiade will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland, from 21 to 31 January 2021, while the 31st summer edition will be hosted by Chengdu, China, from 8 to 19 August 2021.