06 August 2023 | in Summer FISU World University Games
Sezgin Atac (Türkiye), winner of the men’s half marathon
The last day of athletics at the Chengdu FISU World University Games included fourteen medal events, with a surprise country stealing the show, Türkiye.
Sunday started perfectly for the European nation with six medals. Three of them were gold in four half-marathon events courtesy of Sezgi?n Atac in the men’s individual race (1:04:36), as well as the women’s and men’s teams.
Women’s half marathon with ultimate winner, Kitagawa Hikaru of Japan, third from left in sunglasses.It ended on a similar note with a final success in the men’s 4x400m relay (3:03.46), concluding an eight-medal day for the Turks, giving them 18 in total during the meet.
“We have been very efficient today,” proudly said men’s relay anchor Ismail Nezir.
Türkiye’s overall performance at the Shuangliu Sports Centre Stadium has been quite remarkable, considering the country is not particularly known for international success in athletics. For instance, it has only won two bronze medals in its Olympic Games history.
The shining smiles of the winning Turks almost made the spectators forget about the largely uninterrupted rain that made the track slippery and the conditions particularly challenging for the athletes.
Some of them however enjoyed the humidity of the night, like women’s 1500m gold medallist Laura Pellicoro from Italy.Edis Matusevicius (Lithuania), winner of men’s javelin
“I’m so happy with the rain, because I practice in Oregon, in the United States, and it’s always like that, so it did not make much of a difference. I rather enjoyed the race a lot, so the conditions were perfect for me,” shared the University of Portland student, already a winner in the 800m three days earlier.
But the weather was not enough to overcome South Africa’s ray of sunshine on the track, for both women’s and men’s teams secured bronze medals in the 4×100 races, as well as in the men’s 4×400.
Their celebrations were quite similar, the twelve athletes running around the full track wrapped-up in their national flag, and sharing the moment with the thousands of spectators.
South Africa Women’s 4x100m relay bronze medal winning team – from left to right, Banele Shabangu, Elsabe van der Merwe, Joviale Mbisha, and Tamzin Thomas“We can feel the passion of people here for the sport, and we wanted to enjoy this moment with the girls,” said women’s relay member Tamzin Thomas.
“We wanted to show the Chinese people, who have been beautiful with hospitality, how grateful we were for their support,” added Thembo Monareng.
The rainbow nation and its 19-medal tally shared the spotlight with another African country on Sunday.
Ghana won its first medal of the Chengdu FISU Games thanks to the triumph of high jumper Rose Yeboah. The University of Cape Coast student secured the win with a 1.94m jump, bettering Elina Kulichenko from Cyprus (1.91m), and Finland’s Venla Pulkkanen (1.88m).
The 20,000 people gathered for the last day of athletics in Chengdu eventually witnessed a final touch of the host’s dominance, with China’s sweep of the gold medals in men’s and women’s 4×100 relays, along with the title of Zhang Jingqiang in men’s long jump.