NTU hosted the 2017 National Intercollegiate Athletic Games (NIAG) from May 6 to 10. It was the first time the games have been held at NTU since 1979. The games drew thousands of student athletes and sports fans from around the nation to the NTU campus. During their time at NTU, the visitors had the opportunity to experience the creative side of NTU, as both the NTU Art Festival and the NTU Music Festival were underway during the games.
The NIAG's opening ceremony was held at the NTU Sports Center in the evening of May 6. It was a major production featuring rousing speeches, a dazzling high-tech light show, and the lighting of the game torches. The distinguished speakers included Taiwan’s Vice President Chien-Jen Chen and Education Minister Wen-Chung Pan.
Vice President Chen praised the mascots designed for this year's NIAG, Yeh-Pao (Palm Boy) and Chuan-Mei (Azalea Gal), which he said evoked pleasant memories of leisurely strolls with his wife along Royal Palm Boulevard when he was an NTU student. The vice president also called on the competing athletes to give their best and go for the gold so that they could go on to qualify for up-coming international sporting events, including the 2017 Summer Universiade, which will be held in Taipei, as well as the Asian Games and Olympics, and present Taiwan’s best to the world.
Minister of Education Pan expressed special gratitude to NTU for its meticulous design work and creativity and for planning the event with a core focus on the competing athletes. Minister Pan also thanked NTU President Pan-Chyr Yang for his leadership in rallying the combined efforts of the student body, faculty, and administrative staff that produced these spectacular results.
President Yang extended his profound appreciation to the Ministry of Education for providing valuable resources that enabled the university to design the ideal stage for athletic competition and allow the competitors to perform to their fullest potential so that they could exceed themselves and set new records. President Yang also welcomed the students from Taiwan and abroad who had traveled from afar to take advantage of their time at NTU by touring the beautiful campus and attending events organized for the NTU Art Festival.
The NIAG is the largest multi-event college athletic competition in Taiwan, and it assembles the nation's finest college athletes to compete against each other. As this year's games took place in the run-up to the 2017 Summer Universiade, they provided an excellent opportunity for the competitors to gain experience and make adjustments before the international event. Excited about the return of the NIAG to NTU after a decades-long break, the entire NTU community began making preparations long before May.
A total of 16,000 student athletes from 161 institutions of higher education registered to compete in the NIAG this year. The games included 16 competition categories. In addition to the required events held in past games, including track and field, swimming, gymnastics (both artistic gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics), table tennis, badminton, tennis, taekwondo, judo, fencing, archery, weightlifting, shooting, boxing, and karate, cricket was included as an exhibition category, while wrestling was featured for the first time as an optional category. With the exception of the rhythmic gymnastics events, which were held on April 29 and 30, the rest of the events were held from May 6 to 10.
Among the 16 NIAG competition categories this year, 12 will also be featured during the Summer Universiade. A number of Taiwan's top athletes, including Olympic weightlifting bronze-medal winner Hsing-Chun Kuo as well as Olympic team archery bronze-medal winners Ya-Ting Tan and Shih-Chia Lin, competed in the NIAG in May. Also bringing her star power to the games was badminton ace Tzu-Ying Tai, who is currently ranked number one in the world in women's singles competition. Badminton will be a trial event in the Taipei Universiade this August.
Besides the NTU Art Festival and the NTU Music Festival, many other events were organized along the sidelines of the NIAG. During an international academic symposium on college athletics, scholars and experts from nine countries (Australia, Cambodia, India, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand) discussed college sports promotion and marketing strategies in their countries and shared their international experience. A workshop was held in which Olympic athletes Hsing-Chun Kuo (weightlifting), I-Ching Cheng (table tennis), Chia-Chia Chuang (taekwondo), and Wen-Ling Chen (wrestling) shared their personal stories of training and development. They offered practical suggestions to aspiring young athletes and revealed something about the actual lives of top-level athletes. Also, a sports industry internship and employment fair provided opportunities for athletes to connect with businesses.