Shenzhen 2011, Day 1: Jetlag takes its toll

As you may be able to gather by the title of this post, 14 hours on a plane and a 12-hour time difference is killing me. I’ve been awake for about 26 straight hours and 20 of those hours were spent aboard either a plane or bus. With this in mind I’m going to keep this post mainly focused on who I am and what I’m going to be doing over the next two weeks as I flood The Cord’s homepage with my ramblings.

First, the basics. I’m Justin Fauteux, The Cord’s News Director and right now I’m in Shenzhen, China. There’s something I never thought I’d be able to say.

I’m taking part in a young journalist seminar at the 2011 International University Sports Federation Summer University Games. I applied for this program at the beginning of the summer and despite thinking I had about as much of a shot of being selected as I do getting a date with Miss Candice Bergen, I was chosen as one of the two North American representatives. Over the next two weeks I, along with the other participants in the program, which may be as little as 12 or as many 30+ (I’ll keep you posted on that) will be receiving training from professional international sports journalists while helping with coverage of the games.

Ok, that takes care of how I ended up with a free trip to China, but what I’m sure most of you are probably wondering is “what the hell are the Summer University Games?”

To put it simply, it’s the Olympics for university athletes. I.e. Team Canada is made up of Canadian university athletes and they compete against other countries’ top university athletes. To put a Laurier spin on it, Golden Hawk athletes Alyssa Lagonia and Kale Harrison are on Canada’s women’s soccer and men’s basketball teams respectively. I’ll be keeping up with them throughout my time here too.

Despite its non-existent profile in North America, this event is massive. While I knew that it was the second-largest multi-sport event, only behind the Olympics and that there were over 13,000 athletes, coaches and officials involved before I left, I didn’t understand the real magnitude of the games until I got here. Essentially the city of Shenzhen has been taken over by the Summer University Games.

From the time my 14-hour plane ride concluded at the Hong Kong airport (I know 14 hours sounds like a hellishly long time to be on a plane, and it is) you couldn’t go 10 feet without seeing a representative of the Universiade (as the games are also known). The city is draped with Universiade banners, the games have their own designated vehicles and even in the streets the sight of a representative is more than common.

In the coming days I’ll be starting my program and the games will kickoff, starting with the opening ceremonies on Friday. I’ll be updating this blog everyday with what I’ve been up to and trust me it’ll get more exciting than this. It’ll even have photos.