Six Stanford college students competed within the 2023 FISU World College Video games in Chengdu, China this summer time — the primary time the video games had been hosted because the begin of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alex Lee ’22 M.S. ’23, Marisol Torro ’24, Amy Tang ’25, Judy Liu ’26, Zhier Fan ’26 and Hayden Kwan ’26 attended the competitors, which included taekwondo, judo, wushu and swimming occasions. Many earned top-10 finishes.
Throughout the opening ceremonies, college students carried the American flag and marched across the stadium. “We had been all extraordinarily impressed with the fireworks show,” stated Fan, who competed within the swimming occasion.
Torro, who competed within the judo occasion, additionally stated that the opening ceremonies had been a spotlight of the expertise. “It was very surreal and a particular expertise to be part of one thing this grand. All of us felt celebrated,” Torro stated.
To qualify to characterize the U.S. in judo, Torro received the Nationwide Collegiate Judo Affiliation Championships for the 57 kilograms and underneath class. After qualifying, Torro skilled for the Video games whereas working a full-time internship. Since Stanford’s judo membership shut down throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is but to return to campus, Torro commuted to San Jose State College to coach.
Torro on the College Video games judo competitors. (Courtesy of Marisol Torro)
Torro’s competitors on the College Video games didn’t go as she had hoped when she failed to beat rivals from India and Italy to advance to the following spherical. “Each of the matches had been powerful but additionally winnable. I discovered quite a bit from each of them and competing at a global elite stage,” she stated.
Torro stated she hopes to return to the worldwide stage on the 2025 World College Video games. “I’m already impressed and motivated to maintain working even more durable,” Torro stated.
Liu was injured throughout a contest final yr and was unable to stroll for months afterwards. This yr was a chance at redemption: “I feel competing within the College Video games is sort of a blessing. After final yr, I didn’t know if I might ever have the ability to compete on the world stage once more and present folks what I’ve been engaged on,” Liu stated.
A month into her frosh yr, Liu resumed her wushu coaching by the Stanford Working Membership and an off-campus wushu membership. She hopes to create a wushu membership at Stanford this fall.
Wushu is a conventional martial artwork type that originated in China and has two important disciplines: sanda and taolu. Taolu has three distinct kinds together with Liu’s specialty, taiji, which is additional differentiated as taijiquan (or tai chi), the fist type, and taijijian, the sword type. Liu competed in each throughout the College Video games.
Liu competes within the Taijijian competitors within the College Video games. (Courtesy of Judy Liu)
“Probably the most particular abilities of wushu are psychological management, physique language with magnificence, struggle abilities, drama efficiency abilities and eye contact with private spirit exhibiting,” stated Zou Yunjian, who’s Liu’s coach.
In accordance with Liu, tai chi is a misunderstood sport. “Some folks usually criticize it like, ‘You’re not doing tai chi you’re simply dancing,’” Liu stated. “I wish to present that I’ve taken this philosophy, put it into my type, and my life. I simply wish to present that that is what tai chi is.”
Whereas Liu principally targeted on the wushu tai chi skilled ability in her coaching, she additionally studied philosophy to higher perceive tai chi tradition and physique language arts.
“I hope she will be able to showcase her abilities within the mixture of conventional preventing and trendy arts with spirit. We wish to win, but additionally win folks’s respect,” Yunjian stated earlier than the competitors. Liu ended the College Video games with a sixth-place end in taijiquan and an eighth-place end in taijijian.
Lee competed within the taekwondo competitors on the Video games, focusing particularly on the poomsae class, a choreography the place you do a set variety of motions of attacking and defending. Poomsae is scored based mostly on the accuracy of the presentation, the athlete’s energy and the athlete’s kicks. As a way to qualify for the Video games, athletes are requested to compete in each conventional fight and freestyle poomsae, which Lee ready whereas pursuing a pc science masters at Stanford.
“Preparing for competitors on the similar time with courses was actually hectic,” Lee stated. Lee, who has competed in Taekwondo since he was 5, skilled alone and with a bodily therapist for the College Video games, whereas additionally counting on assist from the Stanford Taekwondo Staff.
“The Stanford Taekwondo Staff has actually supported me quite a bit all through the journey. I actually recognize their help,” Lee stated.
The College Video games, the place Lee earned a bronze medal, marks an finish to competitors for the athlete. “That is my final main competitors, and I’m hoping to satisfy lots of people, socialize and simply take pleasure in all of it,” Lee stated in an interview shortly earlier than the video games.
“I’ve been to the Pan American Video games and World Championships, however I wasn’t in a position to go to the College Video games. I can lastly now say that I’ve been in a position to go to all three of the most important occasions,” Lee stated.
Lee competes in Taekwondo on the College Video games. (Courtesy of Alex Lee)
Fan, Kwan and Tang competed on the Video games in swimming.
Kwan swam within the 50-, 100-, and 200-meter backstroke in addition to two relays: blended 4×100 medley relay and males’s 4×100 medley relay. He positioned eighth within the blended medley relay and twelfth within the 200-meter backstroke.
Kwan stated the occasions had been “a bit slower than my private bests” since he was not in a position to relaxation a lot amid preparation for the Asian Video games in September. His first time on the competitors, Kwan stated he particularly loved the chance to satisfy athletes from a wide range of sports activities.
Fan competed within the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststrokes and positioned ninth and nineteenth within the occasions, respectively.
Like Kwan, Fan stated he loved watching and competing in opposition to different prime athletes.
“In each of those occasions, I used to be fortunate sufficient to watch and compete in opposition to the reigning world champion, Qin Haiyang. That was an important studying expertise, observing how he warmed up his physique and ready for the race, in addition to sitting subsequent to him within the prepared room,” Fan stated.
Fan described the competitors as one of the crucial exceptional of his profession and stated coaches who beforehand attended the Olympics “stated that this was one of many closest replicas that that they had seen.”
“Competing, cheering and simply strolling round on the Village was unimaginable to me,” Fan stated.