Shenzhen 2011, Day 2: Never before has a press conference been so impressive

It’s only been two days since my arrival, the actual games haven’t even started yet, but already I am floored.

As a mentioned in my previous post it is almost impossible to appreciate the sheer magnitude of the Summer University Games, or Summer Universiade, without being here. I’ve always known it’s a large event, but that has been reinforced from the time my flight landed right up through my first day of getting acclimated to Shenzhen and the Universiade.

Today the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) and the International University Sports Federation (FISU) proceeded the actual opening of the Universiade with the opening ceremonies of the inaugural young journalist seminar. We were addressed by both the outgoing and incoming presidents of FISU as well as the president of AIPS and as incredible as that was, what followed was even more amazing.

First of all, each speaker was surrounded by a full-on media scrum. Cameras, recorders and notebooks everywhere. It was like something you see on CBC.

But then I realized some of the reporters asking the questions were no more than 11 years old. That’s right, 11. In addition to the group of young international journalists of which I am a part, there are also local students from Shenzhen involved in the media and they range in age from 10 or 11 to about 17.

Let me tell you, seeing an 11-year-old boy confidently walk up to the president of an international governing body is a sight to see. These kids absolutely blew me away with their poise in the media scrum and the quality of questions they constructed. And keep in mind, they were asking the questions in English, which is more than likely not their first language.

Now I’m afraid I have to get a little self-absorbed. Following the press conference, I was informed that I will be able to join the Canadian delegation for tomorrow night’s opening ceremonies.

That’s right, I’ll be walking out of the tunnel with Team Canada.

As incredible as an experience this will be for me, the ceremonies themselves are enough to generate excitement. Remember the incredible opening ceremonies in the 2008 Beijing Olympics? Seven years prior to that, Beijing hosted the 2001 Summer Universiade and from speaking to the journalists and volunteers who were at that Universiade, it wasn’t much of a step down from what happened in ’08.

Something tells me Shenzhen’s got quite a show up its sleeve. Plus, the president of China Hu Jintao will be in attendance.

We also met our journalism mentors today and one of them is Alan Abrahamson, who was a writer for the Los Angeles Times and then worked for NBC sports as a blogger, wrote books with both Michael Phelps and Apollo Anton Ono and now own his own company called 3 Wire Sports. There will also be some Canadian content among those mentors as Steve McAllister, president of Sports Media Canada and managing editor of Yahoo Sports Canada, will be here to share his online expertise.

For a quick Laurier update, though the opening ceremonies haven’t happened yet, the women’s soccer competition got underway today and WLU’s Alyssa Lagonia was in the starting 11 for a 2-0 Team Canada win.

If you’re so inclined, here are a few sites on which you can follow the Universiade and some of the work being done by us young reporters (which, by the way, is an incredible group. I’ve met people from at least 15 different countries).

Also, I just found out that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are all banned in China. Discuss.

International Sports Press Association website

International University Sports Federation website

Shenzhen 2011 website

Considering tomorrow is the opening ceremonies, I promise photos.

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