The Games were officially opened by the President of Estonia Alar Karis on Friday. The opening ceremony took place on the riverside at Lodjakoda where there were speeches by the president of Estonian Academic Sports Federation Ants Veetõusme and Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas. The flag of the 38th SELL Games was raised by the restorers of the tradition in 1998 from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Furthermore, athletes, referees and officials pledged to respect fair play. The evening concluded with an entertaining fire and dance show.

The first medals of the Games were given out in athletics. The most successful athletes came from the Vytautas Magnus University (6 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 1 bronze medal), Vilnius University (5 gold medals, 4 silver medals and 4 bronze medals) and Lithuanian Sports University (2 gold medals, 5 silver medals and 4 bronze medals). The athlete that caught everyone’s eye was Kristupas Seikauskas from Vytautas Magnus University who won three gold medals in two days! In athletics also participated javelin thrower Anete Kocina who was silver medalist in 2017 U23 European Championships and decathlon athlete Karel Tilga who has just recently fulfilled the requirements to participate in the Olympic Games and World Championships. 

Discgolf competition was dominated by the hosting country. In three categories there were 8 Estonians winning a medal and only one Lithuanian. Gold medals were won by Raigo Mõts (Estonian University of Life Sciences), Mireta Jurgelevičiūtė (Lithuanian Sports University) and Cardo Denisjuk (Estonian Academy of Security Sciences). 

Volleyball was played both indoors and outdoors. With a huge support by the audience the gold medals were taken home by Vytautas Magnus University women’s team and Riga Technical University men’s team. Vilnius University women’s team and Vytautas Magnus University men’s team won gold medals in beach volleyball on a sunny court. Jekaterina Kovalskaja, who has won 9th place in the youth European Championships in beach volleyball and in regular volleyball has won Lithuanian championships several times and also won the Baltic League, participated in the beach volleyball tournament in Tartu.

Basketball was also played both indoors and outdoors. Men’s indoor competition proved yet once again that Lithuania is a real basketball country. The medalists were only Lithuanian universities: Vytautas Magnus University (first place), Klaipeda University (second place) and Kaunas Technical University (third place). There were four players from the highest basketball league in Lithuania on the court: Vitalijus Kozys, Edas Valenta, Lorenas Stoškevičius and Gediminas Leščiauskas. In the women’s competition there were two universities competing for the gold medal: University of Tartu and Aalto University. This time the hosting country drew the long straw and won gold medals. The 3×3 basketball men’s competition had once again only Lithuanian universities winning the medals: Vilnius University (first place), Vytautas Magnus University (second place) and Kaunas University (third place). In women’s competition one Latvian university managed to grab a medal as well: Vytautas Magnus University (first place), Lithuanian Sports University (second place) and Riga Stradinš University (third place). Lithuanian universities were represented by Rokas Mačiulis and Titas Januševičius who won fourth place last year with the Lithuanian U23 national team in world championships. 

Besides basketball, Lithuanian athletes showed their teeth also in chess and orienteering. At the chess competition the most successful university was Vilnius University and in orienteering the most successful athlete was Rokas Barauskas (Lithuanian Sports University) who won two gold medals. In women’s orienteering competition the gold medals went to Teklė Emilija Gvildytele (Lithuanian Sports University) and Doris Kudre (University of Tartu). 

At mini-football medals were won by all the Baltic countries: Klaipeda University (first place), Riga Technical University (second place) and University of Tartu (third place). In table tennis and badminton Vytautas Magnus University was tough to beat. In table tennis they won three competitions out of four and in badminton they won gold medals in every competition. In table tennis there were Lithuanian number 3 Lukas Rimkus and Latvian number four Daniels Kogans present. The best swimmers came from Lithuanian Sports University (2 gold medals, 4 silver medals and 4 bronze medals) and Riga Technical University (3 gold medals, 3 silver medals and 1 bronze medal). In the swimming competition also competed Jannes Niine who is two times winner of Estonian championships. 

In wrestling Lithuanian universities were again the most successful ones: Vilnius Gediminas Technical University won 7 medals and both Kaunas Technical University and Vytautas Magnus University won 6 medals. Lithuanian athletes were great in judo too: 9 medals were won by Vytautas Magnus University and 6 medals by Lithuanian Sports University. In powerlifting, 5 universities were really successful: Vilnius University, Lithuanian Sports University, Kaunas Technical University, University of Tartu and Mykolas Romeris University. 

The Games concluded with a closing ceremony at University of Tartu sports hall. The president of Estonian Academic Sports Federation Ants Veetõusme made a concluding speech and declared the 38th SELL Student Games closed. At the end of the ceremony the organising committee of the 38th SELL Games gave over the flag of the Games to Lithuania who will be hosting the games next year in Kaunas!

The head organiser of this year’s games Karl Tereping said that it has been a challenge that has brought a smile to his face. “It was amazing to see more than 850 international student athletes coming together to keep the 100 years old tradition alive, make new friends, compete and improve the student sports.”

The results of the Games are published on our website and the galleries can be found on our Facebook page. 

Long live the SELL Games!

Less than two months until the start of the anniversary games, the third registration stage is open and the organisers are working more and more to make sure that the 38th SELL Student Games would be memorable for all the people involved!

One part of the games is of course the competition itself. But the second part of the games is an extra program that helps student-athletes from all around the world to network and find new friends.

The entertainment program starts already on Friday when all the participants will march together along the riverside to the opening ceremony. After the ceremony, all the participants will be welcomed by Nightclub Vabank Tartu where also the official afterparty will take place!

Vabank is one of the most popular nightclubs in Estonia and it’s situated at the heart of Tartu. Usually, well-known live artists from abroad and Estonia, saxophonists, dancers, and many others perform there in addition to amazing DJs. 

Right now there are already more than 1000 athletes registered from more than 30 different universities. In addition to the athletes, there will be volunteers, organisers, coaches and supporters also taking part in the sports party in Tartu!

May 19th-21st take place in the 38th SELL Student Games which are organised by Estonia. SELL Games of 2023 which take place in the student capital of Estonia are historical because the Games mark the 100th anniversary of the event.

The 38th edition of SELL Student Games takes place in Estonia. What is Estonia good at and what should you consider before travelling to Tartu for the games?

Be ready for high quality of life and clean air

Estonia is ranked 12th in the world when it comes to the quality of life. Estonia is also one of the places with the cleanest air in the world and the 6th most forested nation in Europe. Today Estonia holds the number 4 spot in the world for sustainability.

Don’t be surprised when you meet supermodels

Estonia produces more fashion models per capita than any other country in the world with about 74 models per one million people. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Estonians are the 3rd tallest people in the world, according to a century-long study. The average height for Estonian women is 169 cm and 180 cm for men.

Smart people everywhere you look

The results of the 2018 PISA study rank Estonia’s basic education as the best in Europe. Estonia’s 15-year-olds rank 1st in reading, science, and mathematics in Europe. And in the world, Estonia’s students rank 5th in reading, 8th in mathematics, and 4th in sciences. Consequently, Estonia also has a literacy rate of 100%.

Opportunities here and there

Estonia has gained attention in various international measurements like internet freedom, economic freedom, and overall quality of life. This equates to the most startups per capita in Europe.

Estonians are not THAT religious

According to statistics from 2021, 58% of the people in Estonia don’t feel an affiliation to any religion. This has increased from 54% in 2011. The most prevalent faith in Estonia is Orthodox Christianity.

People speak a lot of languages in Estonia

According to statistics from 2021, Estonian is spoken by 84% of people living in Estonia. The second most spoken language in Estonia is Russian which is a mother tongue to 30% of the population and in total 67% of the population in Estonia can speak Russian. 47% of the population speak English, 11% German and 7% Finnish. 

Trees here and trees there

More than half of the land area in Estonia is covered by forests. 30% of the forest area is also under protection. Forest is also recognised as a recurring theme in Estonian folklore, inspiring storytellers and painters that have produced beautiful landscapes. The largest forests are found in northeastern and central Estonia. 

No mountains here

At 318 metres tall, Suur Munamägi (translation: “Big Egg Mountain”) would barely be considered a hill in most countries. But in Estonia, it’s the highest peak in the country. In fact, it’s the highest peak to be found anywhere in the Baltic states. 

The anniversary of SELL Student Games brings over a thousand athletes to Tartu from all around the world. The patrons of the games are the President of Estonia Alar Karis and the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The sports patron of the games is a former student athlete and Olympic gold medalist and world champion Julia Beljajeva. 

SELL Student Games take place from the 19th-21st May in Tartu and this year marks the hundredth anniversary of the games. During these three days students compete in 16 different sports. Right now there are 80 days left until the start of the games and that means that it is time to introduce the patrons of the games.

The patron of the games is the President of Estonia Alar Karis who mentioned the importance of physical activity also in his speech on the 105th anniversary of Estonia. “But when speaking about mental health, we must also emphasise every person’s diligent daily efforts to keep their home, relationships, and community in good working order. Like an ant who doesn’t allow rubbish to build up in their nest. With humans, it entails anything that undermines our mental and physical wellbeing. This being the Ministry of Culture’s “Be Active Year”, we will discover that the more we move, the healthier we become,” said the president on the 24th of February. 

The second patron of the games is the International University Sports Federation (FISU) which has stood up for gender equality in sports for years now. “University sport, by its very nature, plays a key role as a building block, or foundation, for the development of future communities and societies. It is with this sense of immense responsibility that FISU takes concrete steps towards ensuring gender equality at its sports and education events, as well as in its governance,” stands in FISU’s values. 

Of course there is no way that the games can take part without a sports patron. This year the sports patron is Estonian fencer Julia Beljajeva who has won the award of the best female athlete of Estonia multiple times. Besides medals in the international high level competitions, Julia has also been a student athlete. She has taken part in the FISU World University Games twice. Her best results have been the 6th place as an individual in 2011 and the 4th place with the team in 2013. 

Julia Beljajeva is a coach to young athletes and has encouraged young athletes in the media. “I think that you should never give up on your dreams. Even if nothing works out and you lose sometimes – this means nothing. I have lost many matches in my life. These are not losses but experiences,” she said after winning the gold medal at the Olympic Games in 2021. 

All student athletes can take part in the student sports celebration in Tartu but they aren’t the only ones who can enjoy it. SELL Student Games also need volunteers and fans who will create an unforgettable atmosphere for the young athletes. All the people from Tartu, Estonia and all around the world are more than welcome to join the games!

Scroll to Top