After five days of rapid competition, the Roller Sports event at this year’s Taipei Summer Universiade has come to an end. With the home country topping the medal count with a remarkable 23 medals, the inclusion of roller Sports at the major multi-sport event has helped to elevate the profile of the less popular sport.
If you’ve never watched, or even heard of roller sports, then you should spend a minute on YouTube watching it right now.
The sport is an exhibition of technology, speed and skillful athleticism. Clad in low cut skates for increased ankle mobility and agility, athletes compete in both speed and road races; the discipline closely mimics ice speed skating. And while the local Taiwanese crowds have come out in force for the more mainstream sports such as basketball and baseball, the inclusion of Roller Sports at this year’s 29th edition of the Summer Universiade has also drawn a passionate following.
“I just want more people to know skating” says Su Yu Zhi, an 18-year-old student in Taipei. Starting to skate at just six years old, Su explained that the sport is a favourite for many youths in Taipei. Because most schools have a coach and there are many rinks in Taipei, Roller Sports are a great way for students to get active and form friendships. When asked why he was so passionate about the sport, Su Yu Zhi replied “when I was younger I liked it because it was faster than running. When I got older I kept finding ways to improve, to beat my goals”. He relishes the speed and precision required, saying that “roller skating is a sport that focuses on technology and balance”.”
An incredibly popular sport for young children in Taipei, Roller Sports provides a perfect opportunity to train the body and mind. Su Yu Zhi says of his experience after 12 years in skates, “It’s a sport you have to be smart about. You have to know your body well, when to go fast, when to conserve energy”. For Su Yu Zhi, this year’s Summer Universiade is especially significant, he’s had an opportunity to watch his fellow countrymen and women demonstrate their passion and their skill in front of a diverse nation of sports fans.
New Zealand had one representative in the sport at this year’s Universiade, Lotte Kaars who competed in the 1000m sprint, 10,000m Points-Elimination, 15,000m Elimination and Women’s Marathkn event. She finished inside the top 10 in both the 10,000m and 15,000m elimination events.
Laura Q uilter, (NZL) FISU Young Reporter
To find out more about Roller Sports, visit the Taipei 2017 website: Roller Sports.