Aussie pride was on full display this evening as a contingent of 184 of Australia’s elite student-athletes marched into t San Paolo Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2019 Summer Universiade in Napoli.
Battling the blistering heat of the Italian summer, spirits were high as Victoria University business student and 2018 World University Championships shooting gold medallist Sergei Evglevski led the UniRoos into the stadium.
After being surprised to receive the honour, Evglevski was full of pride as he led the way for the UniRoos.
“I’m super excited to be here tonight. It’s such an honour. There are so many athletes here worthy of this, but to be named is incredible,” said Evglevski.
Evglevski was announced flagbearer earlier in the week and said the situation was surreal.
“I got called into the office a few days ago, and they just basically said would you do the honour of carrying the flag? And I just said of course straight away."
Headlined by Italian singer Andrea Bocelli, the opening ceremony was an experience to behold, with an enthusiastic crowd eagerly cheering the UniRoos into the arena.
For many athletes this was the first time they had the opportunity to experience such an atmosphere and they certainly made the most of it, dancing and parading their way around the field, stopping for many a photo.
The theme of the opening ceremony, ‘Naples at the centre of the world’ showcased the best of arts and culture of Italy, with some 1500 performers lighting up the San Paolo Stadium with an array of lights and music.
A three-dimensional model of Vesuvius then set the stage for the tribute segment of the performance, with Italian singer Malika Ayane and Italian Paralympic Champion Bebe Vio representing the charisma, strength and courage of athletes around the world.
But the highlight of the ceremony was undoubtedly the sea of green and gold waltzing into the stadium to large cheers from the spectators, leaving lasting impressions on the competing athletes.
With the opening ceremony festivities over, attention now shifts to competition with the Fencing, Judo, Shooting, Swimming and Table Tennis competitions all kicking-off on Thursday 4 July.
The official first day of competition will also see finals in the Diving and Artistic Gymnastics, with UniRoo Nikita Hains going for gold in the Women’s 10m Platform.
Sergei Evglevski begins competition on Friday 5th July and is cautiously optimistic about his chances.
“I’m a little nervous to be honest, but I’ve trained hard so I think I’m technically sound, and I just can’t wait to compete."