By Matthew Janik, Director of Atheltic Communication
The competition level was through the roof.
"This was the highest level of competition I have faced. Many of the competitors had personal bests very close to the Olympic standard."
The atmosphere was jubilant.
"The University Games is a whole different beast. The city was shut down and it revolved around the games. The locals were excited to host such a big event, and loved taking pictures with athletes."
Dage Minors was tired.
"The first few days, the time difference was rough. I found myself sleeping a lot during the day, because that was night time over here. After about two full days there, my body was getting used to it, but I still struggled."
Already the most-decorated athlete in the young history of the Franklin Pierce University track & field program, Minors took his talents to the international level this summer. He represented his native Bermuda in Taiwan, at the World University Games (home page), which is the world's largest multi-sport event outside of the Olympic Games. Minors competed in his signature event, the 800 meters.
Just getting to the event required a grueling travel schedule, which featured flights from Bermuda to New York, from New York to Hong Kong, and from Hong Kong into Taiwan. It also required serious training during what would usually be his down time between collegiate seasons, with Minors indicating he had to constantly push himself just to get ready to compete. Once he got to Taiwan though, he tried to keep things in perspective.
"When I got there, I told myself that this is an opportunity you have wanted, to compete with some of the world's best," said Minors last week, after returning to campus at Franklin Pierce. "My approach to the meet was that I really had nothing to lose and wanted to gain experience, as I hope to compete in more international meets like these."
The 800 meters were part of the Athletics competition at the World University Games, which were held at Taipei Municipal Stadium (Wikipedia). The 20,000-seat venue opened in 2009 and has been host to the Deaflympics and FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in the past, among other events. In a 53-runner field, Minors would take to the track in the first of seven Round 1 heats on Aug. 26.
Once he was out on the track, Minors felt things were business as usual, though he also looked at it as a learning experience.
"Not much happened on the track that I hadn't experienced before, but every race you learn something different, whether you win or lose, so I will definitely have some lessons from that," said Minors. "If I'm selected in the spring for the Commonwealth Games, having had a race with people I don't know anything about, and putting myself in a position to run well, is what I can take away from this trip."
Minors' heat wound up being one of the faster Round 1 races, with three of the round's top-six times coming from the seven-runner heat. Minors turned in a 1:51.43, which placed him sixth in the heat (heat results), and was the 19th-fastest Round 1 time (Round 1 results). He ran a faster time than seven runners who advanced to the semifinals, but was left on the outside looking in, due to the structure of the event. The top three finishers in each heat automatically qualified for the semifinals, plus the next three fastest times across all seven heats, for a total of 24 semifinalists. Minors, along with the runner who finished just ahead of him in the first heat, were the fastest two men left out of the semifinals.
All in all, Minors was happy with the outing.
"I'm pleased with my performance. I think that I am good enough to have made the next round, but I just missed out," said Minors. "Considering that it was late in the track season, I was happy to put down a decent time."
Minors was the first athlete in program history to represent his country at the World University Games. After his experience, what would he tell a potential future student-athlete selected to do the same?
"If a future Raven were to compete, I would tell them to enjoy the experience, and to represent their country and themselves to the best of their ability."
That, and get plenty of sleep.