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(LEAD) (Universiade) Universiade ends with celebration of athletes, volunteers

All Headlines 20:49 July 14, 2015

(ATTN: ADDS photos, comments)
By Yoo Jee-ho and Park Sojung

GWANGJU, July 14 (Yonhap) -- The 2015 Summer Universiade drew to a close in southwestern South Korea on Tuesday with a ceremony saluting the young athletes and people who worked behind the scenes to help run the multisport competition.

Gwangju, some 330 kilometers south of Seoul, and its neighboring sub-host cities opened the multisport competition on July 3. The organizers at first announced that about 13,000 athletes and officials from 146 nations would take part. The final figures showed that 12,885 participants from 143 countries were here, and it still made the 2015 Summer Universiade the largest ever, surpassing the 11,759 who competed in the 2013 event in Kazan, Russia.

Host South Korea, thanks to strong showings in judo, archery, badminton and taekwondo, clinched first place in the medal table with 44 gold medals, followed by Russia with 34 gold medals. China also finished with 34 gold medals but trailed Russia in total medals, 122 to 72.

It marked the first time that South Korea has topped the medal race at a Summer Universiade. It finished first in gold medals at the 2007 Winter Universiade in Torino, Italy.

The Universiade is open to student-athletes or recent graduates between 17 and 28 years of age.

The closing ceremony, which kicked off at 7 p.m. at Gwangju Universiade Main Stadium, was entitled "Sharing the Light: Youth is the Light of the Future."

The ceremony, less formal and structured than the opening one, started with a cheerleading performance and the South Korean rock band Dick Punks capped off the pre-ceremony show.

After the delegations entered the field, the scoreboard at the stadium played athletic highlights of the Universiade, along with behind-the-scenes footage of the volunteers helping with the event's operations.

Kim Hwang-sik, co-president of the organizing committee, gave a farewell address, followed by a closing address from Claude-Louis Gallien, president of the International University Sports Federation (FISU).

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn then declared the Universiade closed.

Next, the Universiade Flag was handed over to Taipei, the host of the next Summer Universiade in 2017. Ko Wen-Je, mayor of Taipei and head of the city's Universiade organizing committee, was joined by Ho Jow-Fei, director general of sports administration in Taipei, and Chiang Han-Sun, head of the Chinese Taipei University Sports Federation.

"At this Universiade, I saw first-hand all the athletes giving their best and fighting to the last minute of each game," Ko said. "This relentless pursuit of excellence, and most of all, good sportsmanship -- whether win or lose -- impressed and moved everyone. We will build on the success of Gwangju Universiade as we welcome college athletes from all over the world to make new records in Taipei in 2017."

The Universiade cauldron, which was lit jointly by Gwangju-born artistic gymnast Yang Hak-seon and former Major League Baseball All-Star Park Chan-ho during the opening ceremony, was extinguished. And K-pop stars SHINee, EXID and Jinusean highlighted the final segment of the ceremony amid fireworks.



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