Theresa Hanson’s first concern is safety and security.
As Canada’s Chef de Mission for Universiade 2013, she hopes that university athletes from across the country bring home medals and enjoy an experience of a lifetime, but as she prepares for the largest sports event after the Olympics, her mantra is safety.
“That’s my main concern: that everyone is safe and nothing negative happens on my watch.”
“That’s my main concern: that everyone is safe and nothing negative happens on my watch,” said UBC’s associate director of Intercollegiate and High Performance Sport just days after returning from a site visit to Kazan, Russia where the 27th Universiade or World University Summer Games will be held from July 6 to 17.
Hanson believes Team Canada – athletes, coaches and medical staff – will be awestruck by Kazan’s venues, which feature team rooms, recovery rooms, and hot and cold pools: an athlete’s nirvana.
“They have built 27 new venues. Their sports facilities are unbelievable. They are all sport specific. The aquatic pool is 200 metres long, 100 metres wide and cost €140 million Euros. It’s like nothing we’ve seen here.”
Kazan is home to 15 to 20 universities that share a student housing village which will be home to Universiade teams. Hanson hopes the Canadian team of 480, of whom about 380 are athletes, will be housed in one building not just for logistical ease but to build team spirit and allow athletes to get to know each other.
“It is an opportunity of a lifetime to play for Canada, and to get that international experience,” she said, noting that the calibre of competition is extremely high with Olympians and some professional athletes participating.
Universidade 2013 is expected to be the largest ever with more than 10,000 participants. A number of Canadian athletes, including at least eight from UBC, are Olympians. There are also soccer and basketball players who compete in professional leagues and also study, making them eligible for the games.
Canada competes in most disciplines
Canada is competing in almost all of the disciplines except rowing and men’s and women’s field hockey. Each sport’s national governing body decides whether or not to compete at Universiade, a decision often based on the year’s competition calendar.
The evening before the games begin, Hanson will host a reception where Canada’s flag bearer will be named. Representatives of the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, sport governing bodies, family members and friends will attend to toast the Canadian team.
Another of Hanson’s goals, almost equal to security, is to see every Canadian athlete compete at least once.
“It’s hard in the early rounds when there are so many competitions, but that’s my goal,” said the Chef de Mission who will have an attaché/translator and a driver to make getting around the city of 1.2 million a bit easier.