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history of australian rowing at world university games and the universiades

World University Championships and World University Games (formerly the Universiade)

Brief History

The World University Games, formerly the Summer and Winter Universiade, and the World University Championships are conducted by the International University Sport Federation (FISU).

FISU's main responsibility is the supervision of both Summer and Winter Universiade as well as the World University Championships.

Each of the World University Championships and World University Games are conducted every two years on alternate years.

The FISU website sums up the various events as follows:

The FISU World University Games are the largest global sports events for student-athletes. Held every two years in different cities around the world, they bring together thousands of athletes from over 150 countries and have a programme that includes 25 compulsory sports: 15 summer and 10 winter.

The FISU World University Championships are single sport competitions that complement and complete the FISU sports programme. They are also held every two years and give various host cities all over the world a chance to host a major international sports event. In 2020, the FISU World University Championships calendar had 29 events on the year's calendar.

The FISU University World Cup are unique international sports events that see student-athletes compete for their university teams rather than national teams with the sixth edition of the 3x3 tournament headed back to Xiamen next fall.

Characterised by a special atmosphere, an extensive sports programme, diversity, gender equality and high level of competition, FISU sports events are recognised stepping stones for other major events at the international and continental level. They are open to all student-athletes that have not been out of university or an equivalent institution for more than a year, and who are between the ages of 17 and 25.

At the heart of the university sports movement lies FISU’s sports events – summer edition of the FISU World University Games, winter edition of the FISU World University Games, FISU World University Championships, and the FISU University World Cups. Across the totality of its events, the FISU sports programme covers more than 60 sports. 

World University Games (previously Summer and Winter Universiade)

For the first time in 2023, the Universiade event became titled the World University Games.

The World University Games have a tradition dating from the early 1920s, a history which is not as old as the Olympic Games nor as recent as the Commonwealth Games. The first World University Games were held in Parn 1923 and have been conducted in their current form since the 1959 Games in Turin.

The following is a more detailed history based on information in the 1987 Australian team handbook.

The word Universiade was originally coined from two words - University and Olympiad, indicating the Olympic version of university student sports. 

Sponsored by the Federation International du Sport Univer­sitaire (F.I.S.U.), this general athletic meeting of world students aims at promoting exchanges among youth and contributing to world peace. EIigible participants must be aged between 17 and 28 and must be current university or college students. 

The predecessor of the Universiade dates back to the Interna­tional University Athetics held in Paris in 1923. The participants at the time of inauguration were the countries of Europe and the United States. These meetings, held irregularly in the beginning became fixed as regular competitions held every second year. Since 1933, they have taken the present Universiade format. 

However, the Confederation Internationale de Etudiants (CIE), a sponsor of the meet, became divided into the allied nations and the axis powers under the influence of the international political situa­tion before the Second World War. 

After the Second World War, the University Sports Organisa­tions continued to operate separately until 1961. F.1.S.U. held University Games in: Luxembourg (1951 ), West Germany (1953), Spain (1953), Paris (1957), Turin 1959 and Bulgaria (1961) while the Prague based Union Internationale des Etudiants (U.I.E ) held stu­dent Games in: Berlin (1951), Budapest (1953 and 1954), Warsaw (1955), Moscow (1957), Vienna (1959) and Helsinki (1962) 

In 1957, the F.1.S.U. World University Games were held in Paris and for the first time in ten years, students from the rival two bodies officially competed together. 

In 1959 at the F.1.S.U. Games in Turin, Italy, U.I.E. athletes again competed. The presence of top Eastern bloc athletes increased the international credibility of the competition. The 1959 Games are regarded by historians as the first official Universiade. Indeed the name of Universiade came into being at these Games.

Australia was first represented in the 1967 Games in Tokyo where Ralph Doubell won a gold medal in the 800m which was a prelude to his gold in the same event the following year at the Mexico Olympics. Other Australian medallists include 1992 Olympians Alison Inverarity in the high jump and Shaun Creighton in the steeple chase. Previously Rob Woodhouse, Michelle Ford, John Sieben, Susie Woodhouse and Mark Kerry, all in swimming, have won gold.

World University Championships

The other important sport events of FISU are the World University Championships. The spreading of the university sport in the world created a new series of meetings and competitions to complete the program of the Universiade. FISU supports the competitions which represent the continuity of university sport and allows the federation to be better known.

In 2004, FISU organised 25 World University Championships that attracted 4,845 participants from a total of 186 (of which 90 different) countries. For 2006, FISU has already attributed 28 WUCs.

WUC Sports Program: Archery - Badminton - Baseball - Beach Volleyball - Bridge - Chess - Cross Country - Cycling - Equestrian - Flat Water Canoeing - Floorball - Futsal - Golf - Handball - Field Hockey - Judo - Karate - Match Racing - Orienteering - Rowing - Rugby 7 - Sailing - Shooting - Softball - Squash - Table Tennis - Taekwondo - Triathlon - Wild Water Canoeing - Waterskiing - Woodball - Wrestling 

Australia has been well represented in rowing over many years in both events.

World University Games (previously Summer Universiade)

No Year Venue
1st1959Turin, Italy (no rowing conducted)
2nd1961Sofia, Bulgaria (no rowing conducted)
3rd1963Porto Allegre, Brazil (no rowing conducted)
4th1965Budapest, Hungary (no rowing conducted)
5th 1967Tokyo, Japan (no rowing conducted)
6th1970Turin. Italy (no rowing conducted)
7th1973Moscow. Russia (no rowing conducted)
8th1975Rome, Italy (no rowing conducted)
9th1977Sofia, Bulgaria (no rowing conducted)
10th1979Mexico City, Mexico (no rowing conducted)
11th1981Bucharest. Romania (no rowing conducted)
12th1983Edmonton, Canada (no rowing conducted)
13th1985Kobe Japan (no rowing conducted)
14th 1987 Zagreb, then Yugoslavia (rowing first conducted)
15th 1989 Duisburg, Germany
16th 1991 Sheffield, Great Britain
17th 1993 Buffalo, USA
18th 1995 Fukuoka, Japan
19th 1997 Sicily, Italy
20th 1999 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
21st 2001 Beijing, China
22nd 2003 Daegu, Korea
23rd 2005 Izmir, Turkey
24th 2007 Bangkok, Thailand
25th 2009 Belgrade, Serbia 
26th 2011 Shenzhen, China
27th  2013 Kazan, Russia
28th 2015 Gwangju, Korea 
29th 2017 19-28 August - Taipei City, Taipei (rowing not conducted)
30th 2019 3-14 July - Naples, Italy (no rowing conducted)

2021 No Summer Universiade
31st 2023 28 July-8 August - Chengdu, China 

World University Championships

1st1984Milan, Italy
5th1998Zagreb, Croatia
6th2000Poznan, Poland
7th2002Nottingham, UK
8th2004Brive La Gaillarde, France 
9th2006Trakai, Lithuania
10th2008Belgrade, Serbia
11th2010Szeged, Hungary
12th2012Kazan, Russia
13th2014Gravelines, France
14th2016Poznan, Poland
15th2018Shanghai, Chona

2020No rowing conducted

2022No rowing conducted

2024Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Last updated June 2023

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