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Macleod player joins Canadian team in Italy

Michael McTighe of Fort Macleod displays the Canadian flag during the opening ceremonies of the 30th Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy.

Fort Macleod rugby player Michael McTighe experienced one of the highlights of his sports career last month when he joined Team Canada for the opening ceremonies of the 30th Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy.
The Canadian team and teams of university students from around the globe walked onto the track at San Paulo Stadium before a sell-out crowd of 35,000.
“It was an amazing feeling,” the 20-year-old McTighe said. “Being able to walk out into a stadium full of cheering fans was stunning. It kind of took your breath away knowing you’re representing your nation as you’re walking with the top athletes for a ton of other sports, all there to represent Canada.”
The opening ceremonies featured the end of a relay that saw the torch lit by professional soccer player Lorenzo Insigne, as well as performances by world-class opera singer Andrea Bocelli.
The next day McTighe, who is pursuing bachelor of education and bachelor of science degrees at the U of L, experienced an even bigger thrill when he pulled on the red Canada jersey for the first time.
“I think everyone who plays a sport dreams of being able to represent their country, and being able to step out on the field wearing the maple leaf was a feeling I’ll never forget,” McTighe said. “It’s something I’ve worked hard for and makes me want to work even harder to be able to have that feeling again.”

Organized by the International University Sports Federation, the Summer Universiade and its Winter counterpart are the largest global sports events for student-athletes.
Held every two years in different cities around the world, the Universiades bring together thousands of athletes from more than 150 countries to compete in more than 25 sports.
McTighe, who enters his second year at the University of Lethbridge this fall, was one of 12 players from universities across the country selected to play rugby sevens for Canada at the 30th Summer Universiade.
McTighe, a member of the Class of 2017 at F.P. Walshe school, won a national rugby 15s championship with the Alberta U18 Wolfpack and national bronze with the Alberta U18 sevens team.
McTighe also earned a provincial championship playing club rugby for the Foothills Lions in Okotoks.
Just 19 years old when the tournament opened in July, McTighe was the youngest player on the Canadian team.
Most of the players met for the first time when they gathered at the airport in Rome before taking the train to Naples.
The Canadian team was coached by Robin MacDowell, a former national rugby sevens player and former head coach of the Mexican women’s national team and the University of Regina women’s team.
Neil Langevin, head coach of the University of Pronghorns women’s rugby team, was the assistant coach.
The Canadian team stayed on a cruise ship docked at Naples, where they enjoyed cuisine from around the globe and mingled with university students from other countries.
With just three days of training together Canada took on France in their opening game, losing 35-5.
Later that day Canada met eventual tournament champion Japan, a team that had spent the previous two years training together at a rugby academy.
Japan thumped the Canadians 44-5.
A bright spot for McTighe in that game was his highlight reel 60-meter run for Canada’s only try. He took a pass, fought off two tacklers and outran two Japanese players to the end zone.
In their third round-robin game the following day, Canada lost 12-5 to the host Italian team. Canada had the ball deep in Italy’s end and was pushing for the tying score when time ran out.
“The level of rugby was obviously the highest I’ve played,” McTighe said. “The sharpness of skills and technicality was high above what I’ve been a part of. We had a big emphasis on our catch and pass going into the tournament because we felt as long as we could keep the ball in hand we could succeed.”
As he wraps up the season with the Bow Valley Grizzlies of the Calgary Rugby Union’s first division, McTighe will turn his attention to his fifth season with the High River Flyers of the Heritage Junior Hockey League.
Last year McTighe was named the Flyers captain and earned the Most Dedicated Player award at the end of the season.
He had 10 goals and 10 assists with 62 penalty minutes, missing a quarter of the season with a badly separated shoulder.

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