As the title suggests these are championships and events in which athletes from a number of different sports compete at the same event. There are in fact relatively few events such as this around the world each year and for athletes and support staff alike exposure to this environment is hard come by and very much valued in their preparation.
For most sports the Olympic Games is the pinnacle of competition and the ultimate multi-sports event. The fact that they only occur every four years means that for many athletes they are only ever able to be in peak shape and at the top of their performance for one Games. There are a few notable exceptions to this – Sir Steve Redgrave & Sir Chris Hoy spring to mind but the “Sir” in front of their names indicates how special and exceptional they are. There are many factors at an Olympic games which can distract the athlete and detract from their performance; the sheer numbers of people (over 11000 competitors at the Beijing Olympics), the many famous sports people who are quite literally wandering around the village, the 24 hour availability of food in the restaurant, the multitude of different cultures and nationalities etc.
So the question is; how does one get exposure to an environment which only comes around every four years? The answer is that there are other limited opportunities for multi-sports exposure which can be had. The Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Pan Pacific Games are all open to limited groups but the fastest growing event which is becoming a great place to get multi-sport exposure is the World University Games. The picture shows a typical post training scene from the 2009 World University Games in Belgrade, the boys from the Gymnastics team take a few minutes to get some work on their suntans and to let the locals see the “Gun Show”.
The first World University Games was held in Sheffield in 1991 and like many things which later became great did not get off to the best of starts, costing the City of Sheffield a small fortune to host but it did kick start the sporting regeneration of Sheffield including the building of Don Valley Stadium, Ponds Forge swimming centre and Sheffield Arena. The event has grown and is now the second largest multi-sports event in the world, behind only the Olympics in terms of competitor numbers. The University Games is held every two years and was last hosted in Belgrade, Serbia in 2009 when there were 9000 competitors from 145 countries. The next Games will be held in Shenzen, China in 2011.
Dominic was selected to represent Great Britain at the 2007 Games in Bangkok and the 2009 Games in Belgrade. Unfortunately he will be unable to attend the 2011 Games in Shenzen, China but will instead take part in the selection process for the physiotherapists who have applied to attend.