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Ogwumike Has Memories And Aspirations From The 2011 World University Games

  • Author:
    Megan Fontenot
  • Date:
    May 14, 2015

On Aug 3, 2011, the USA Basketball women’s team that would compete at the 2011 World University Games in Shenzhen, China, was announced, and amongst the 12 talented international veterans and top collegians comprising the roster was 6-foot-2 forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike, who was competing in her third international competition.

Despite a month of preparation, including team trials (May 22-25) and a training camp (July 31- Aug. 8) at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Ogwumike still was unfamiliar with the competition until it began.

“I did not know many details of the competition,” she explained. “I, like everyone else assumed that it was just another competition, a USA event where you play games; not like there is anything wrong with that but this event is different. It is more representative of what you see on TV every four years. I was pleasantly surprised when I got there.”

The multi-sport competition, which is organized every other year by the International University Sports Federation for collegiate men and women between the ages 17 and 24, holds many similarities to the Olympic Games, such as an athletes village and opening and closing ceremonies.

Ogwumike, who averaged 13.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game to help the American women win gold with a 6-0 record, describes gathering as part of the nation’s representation at the opening ceremonies in Shenzhen Bay Stadium on Aug. 12, as one of her favorite parts of the trip.

“The opening ceremony was my favorite part of the event. First of all, the guy that held the flag was Orlando Johnson (USA men’s basketball team member); he did an amazing job of doing that. It was like the Olympics, where they call out all the countries. It was so real to stand there as a representative of the USA, so much so that people had the option of leaving early but we were having so much fun, in so much awe that we stayed the whole time. China had an amazing production.”

During the competition, often alongside her sister, Chiney Ogwumike, Nneka observed many other sports, some of which she had never seen before, as a way to support the USA and her alma mater, Stanford University, which had several athletes competing in various events.

“I was lucky in that my sister and I met up with 10 other Stanford athletes. We saw a lot of our classmates. We actually watched them compete in their sporting events, which was really cool. I was really excited to watch our men’s volleyball team, because we had three Stanford athletes on that team. The games were super exciting.”

In addition to meeting up with classmates, Ogwumike made new friends in the village, which is something she advises the participants of the 2015 World University Games to do.

“They had us living in a village like the Olympics. You were in this huge community with other athletes from all the other sports. We hung out a bit with Great Britain, Australia and of course the USA – mainly the track and swim athletes. It was a lot of fun.

“I would tell everyone to enjoy every single moment, don’t sit in your room, go out there and experience things – watch the sports and meet new people.”

The 2015 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games National Team will travel to Gwangju, South Korea, after completing a training camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado from June 18- July 3.

With the World University Games experience now behind her, Ogwumike hopes to experience the similar Olympics.

“Without a doubt the WUGs prepared and inspired me to compete in the Olympics. I was like ‘If this is what the World University Games are like, I can’t believe what the Olympics would be like.’ The camaraderie you feel when you are there, you forget about everything else. You are one team for the USA. I would love to feel that at the highest level; that is a goal of mine. The World University Games definitely motivated me more to reach that goal.”

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