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NCNU greets NIAG torch procession with Gamelan-inspired anthem

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The torch of the 2021 National Intercollegiate Athletic Games (NIAG) arrived at National Chi Nan University (NCNU) on May 5 as part of a 1,168-kilometer marathon around the island to bring the NIAG flame and spirit to all 30 participating universities. The lively torch-bearing ceremony reflected both NCNU's athletic ambitions and the NIAG motto of "bravery, motivation, passion."

Led by President Dr. Dong-Sing Wuu (武東星), the NCNU torchbearers comprising decorated rowers, softball players, karate athletes, and archers received the torch from Dr. Fong-Chin Su (蘇芳慶), vice president of this year's NIAG organizer National Cheng Kung University (NCKU).

After making a ceremonial lap around the spacious campus, the delegation was greeted by a beautiful remix of traditional Indonesian music in a live rendition of "KUFFY~Gamelan!" —  a brand-new anthem composed by NCNU's Gamelan ensemble and dedicated to the intercollegiate games.

Explaining that the theme of this year's national intercollegiate games is "Sports for All, Zeal for Future," Dr. Su of NCKU noted that it will be a tech-studded affair resplendent with futuristic maneuvers such as facial recognition for pandemic-prevention purposes and drone-enabled aerial photography.

Starting from the technology building that is shrouded by cascading pink cassia trees, the NCNU team circled the school campus, jogging in a symbolic gesture of solidarity and sportsmanship with all those that took part in the 1,168-kilometer marathon. Karate athlete Hsiao Pei-yu (蕭霈瑜), a Department of Public Policy and Administration junior who captured silver at last year's national intercollegiate games, carried the NIAG flame, while eight medal winners from nationwide competitions in rowing, softball, karate, and archery formed a support team behind Hsieh.

The torchbearers were cheered on by a live performance of "KUFFY~Gamelan!" by 32 students of the NCNU Department of Southeast Asian Studies. "Kuffy" is name of the 2021 NIAG mascot, an alien robot hailing from the NCKU planet that weighs 111.1kg and measures up to 170cm. Gamelan is the traditional ensemble music of the Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese in Indonesia, and professor Lin Kuo-chen (林幗貞) made a remix of "KUFFY" just for this event.

The lively performance by NCNU students was punctuated by a French horn signifying the switch to the next song: "We Will Rock You" by the British legendary band Queen. The dramatic contrast between classic rock and Indonesian melodies symbolized the joined hearts of Taiwanese university athletes hoping to compete on the world stage one day.

Nantou County is a cradle of Taiwanese athletic talents and NCNU is this county's only sports-oriented university, a home to first-class instructors with international competition experience representing Taiwan on the world stage. From rowing and softball to Karate and archery, NCNU not only offers competitive training but also leisure activities and sports science.

A stunning 9 members of the NCNU rowing team were awarded gold at this year's college league. An additional 3 NCNU karate athletes captured 1 silver and 2 bronze in last year's national intercollegiate games, while the University Softball League (USL) championship title went to NCNU as well. Archers then bagged gold at the National Youth Cup.

Such student athletes are now recruited through an independent program that allows for more flexibility in admissions. Although NCNU is not yet part of Taiwan's athletic system erected by the government for recruiting national talent, its stellar progress over the years speaks volumes about where it is heading as an academic university with passion for athletics and teamwork.

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