University Games in South Korea
Remo Bucci, R.M.T.
The host city was Daegu, South Korea (five hours south east of Soeul), the third largest city, and in my opinion first in heat and humidity in Korea. The Summer Unerversiade games are the second largest sporting event next to the Olympics. There were over six thousand participants competing in Daegu.
Univerdsiade Games often do not get a lot of media attention in North America. This is because the Pan-Am games are a bigger event that attract a higher level of athlete. It seems to me though, that North America is about the only place in the world that doesn't go nuts for these games. Before leaving, I received a large package at my door. If I wasn't already excited about going, unpacking a full team uniform, a sling backpack, a leather briefcase, shorts, and of course the requisite hats and pens sure did it for me!
This was my first major games event. It was an absolute rush walking into the World Cup Stadium. Sixty-six thousand spectators were cheering Canada on for the opening ceremony of the FISU's (International University Sport Federation) Summer Universiade games. The ceremonies were complete with processional Olympic style music, fireworks and dancers. I could not raise my head to look out into the screaming and joyous crowd as we (Canadian delegation) were walking around the track, because the amount of energy almost overwhelmed me.
The Stadium was newly built for the games, along with numerous condominium buildings. These condos, named Athletes' Village, housed the athletes and Medical staff for the duration of the games. It was rumoured each condo sold for $100,000.00 US. The parking garages below the buildings were made into cafeterias, where the food was pretty good, and available around the clock.
I was the only Certified Sport Massage Therapist on an experienced and well organized Canadian Medical Team of Medical Doctors, Athletic Therapists (A.T.) and Physiotherapists (P.T.). Needless to say I was very popular, some days too popular amongst over 150 Canadian athletes. Each member of the Medical Team over-saw a paticular Canadian team (i.e. women's volleyball and men's basketball). The A.T.s and P.T.s would screen athletes and the ones that were injured would be referred to me. There was no flushing or relaxation massage given by me, only treatment and recovery focused massage. Amongst attending serious injuries, the A.T.s and P.T.s gave flushing massage so that I would not be burnt out. I treated various conditions such as shin splints, rotator cuff strains, low back strains, etc.
I worked 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. with several meal and relaxation breaks for twelve days. After about the seventh day of the games the treatments tapered off as certain sports were finished. I averaged about sixteen athletes a day during the busy days of the games. One day I treated twenty two athletes. I was forewarned about the gruelling schedule by other Certified Sport Massage Therapists, so I trained for two months prior to leaving. I did pilates and weight lifting, massage therapy, active release therapy, osteopathy and chiropratic therapy. It paid off
because my body was starting to feel only a little sore near the end of the games.
I did find time to visit some events. Dependably, there were very enthusiastic fans in the stands and the level of skill was great to watch. I also came home with quite a wardrobe, as there was quite a business in trade going on with athletes and medical personelle alike. I traded some Canada hats I took with me for some gear from Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and of course, Italy! Near the end of the games, some of the teams were selling their uniforms and other gear for quite a deal.
"Dream for Unity" was the slogan for the games because of the situation between North and South Korea. South Korea wanted Unity with North Korea for the games, and for the rest of the countries to have solidarity. This was evidenced during the opening and closing ceremonies. North and South Korea came out together under one flag. It was inspiring, and set a wonderful tone for the entirety of the games.
This was the most rewarding experience of my professional career. I hope this leads to more opportunities in the near future. I am glad I went through the certification levels to become a Certified Sport Massage Therapist. This allowed me the opportunity to visit a country I otherwise may not have, and to treat our elite Canadian athletes.