Rio, 16 August 2009: Competitions at the 2009 National University Games in Brazil went into full swing this weekend as some of the country’s greatest athletes came together in Fortaleza, State of Ceará in north east Brazil, for their events. 

Launched in 2005 through the collaboration of the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB), the Sports Ministry and the Brazilian University Sports Confederation (CBDU), the National University Games marked the beginning a new era in Brazilian university sports by fostering high level sports competition for 18 to 28 year old students at state and national level.  The opening ceremony of this year’s Games also showcased public support for Rio’s bid to host the 2016 Games with a dedicated ceremony featuring the Candidate City’s logo on a flag.

This year’s event kicked off on Friday 14 August with approximately 3,400 participants (including 3,000 competitors) competing in eight categories: four team events (basketball, futsal soccer, handball and volleyball) and four individual events (track and field, judo, swimming and chess). 

Carlos Nuzman, President of the Brazilian Olympic Committee and Rio 2016 Bid Committee, said: “We have sent our best wishes to the participants in Fortaleza and are very pleased to be able to provide an opportunity for our country’s young athletes to compete at a high level. Participation in sport and continuously developing new opportunities for them is a priority for all levels of government and our National Olympic Committee. I am proud to say that this particular initiative has been a resounding success since we launched it a few years ago and further illustrates the significance of sport in Brazil.”

Edgar Hubner of the Brazilian Olympic Committee and Director of Brazil’s School and University Games said: “Many of the competitors already have Olympic, Pan American and World Championship track records, proof that the project is consolidating its position in the Brazilian sports calendar. Educational institutions are investing more in sports and are increasingly realising that the event’s organization is continuously improving and providing their athletes and schools with greater visibility. This is also a clear illustration of the support from Brazilian school sports for the Rio 2016 campaign and their shared dream to host the Games.” 

The competitions this week will feature a number of elite Brazilian sports personalities including young swimmers like Olympic competitor Fernando Souza and Pan American Games participants Daiane Dias and Etiene Medeiros who will compete for medals with experienced swimmers like Paula Baracho, Nayara Ribeiro and Luis Rogério Arapiraca. 

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