Quite a few of the continent’s best athletes will compete in the Pan American Games, an event that is approaching its first 70 years of history. A total of 41 countries and more than 6600 athletes will participate in 39 modalities. Which will be the most prominent stars to fight for the title in the Pan American Games in Lima?
MIJAÍN LÓPEZ, THE EBONY CUBAN GIANT
Greco-Roman style wrestler Mijaín López will be the most decorated athlete to participate in the Lima Games. At age 36, Lopez has a very broad track record with three consecutive Olympic titles and five world crowns.
Mijaín made his debut at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, where he was in the finals against American Rulon Gardener; then, in Rio de Janeiro 2007, he beat another northerner, Dremiel Byers. In Guadalajara 2011, no one was able to score against him, as was the case in Toronto 2018, where he took the lead in the final duel against Chilean wrestler Andrés Ayub.
This legend of Pan-American sports will be, for the fourth consecutive time, the flag bearer of Cuba in the inaugural ceremony of the Games.
Related article: The Most Strange and Unknown Stories of the Pan American Games.
CATERINA IBARGÜEN, THE GLOBAL QUEEN OF THE TRIPLE JUMP
Colombian athlete Caterine Ibargüen is considered one of the best triple jumpers in the world. Her achievements include the Olympic title in Rio de Janeiro 2016 and the silver medal she won at the 2012 Summer meetup in London; In addition, she has conquered two world crowns, in Moscow 2013 and Beijing 2015.
Ibargüen was at the 2011 Pan American Games where she climbed the podium on two occasions: she won the triple jump at 14.92 meters and was third in the long jump. Four years later, in Toronto, she set a record for the Games, stretching to 15.09 meters to make the jump. In 2018, Ibarguen was selected by the International Association of Athletics Federations as the most outstanding athlete of the year. In Lima, the Colombian athlete will look for her third consecutive Pan-American crown, although she will surely get strong opposition from the current world champion, Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas.
YULIMAR ROJAS, VENEZUELA’S MAIN HOPE FOR THE PAN AMERICAN GAMES
The duel between Ibargüen and Rojas promises to be the most awaited and interesting one to take place at the Villa Deportiva National athletics stadium, the main competition venue for the Pan American Games.
These two great jumpers started competing against each other at the Rio Olympics, where the Colombian triumphed. Then, at the 2017 World Championships in London, Yulimar bested Ibargüen by two centimeters and climbed the podium. In 2018, the Venezuelan asserted her dominance by winning the world title in the indoor track.
In Lima we will see yet another chapter of this personal duel and, a few weeks later, both will face off at the Qatar World Games.
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JAVIER CONTE, ARGENTINA’S FLAG BEARER AT THE PANAMERICAN GAMES
At 43, sailboat racer Javier Conte will be the flag bearer of Argentina at the opening ceremony. Conte won the bronze medal in the 470 class competition of the Olympic Games of Sydney 2000 and won the title in the Pan American Games of Toronto, in the lightning modality, next to Nicolás Fracchia and María Salerno.
In Lima, Conte will also compete in the lightning category and will share the boat with Ignacio Giamonna and Salerno.
PAOLA LONGORIA, UNBEATABLE ON THE COURT
Longoria has been the best racquetball player in the world for more than five years. In the Pan American Games, the Mexican has not had significant rivals and has already accumulated six titles in the six competitions in which she has participated. Her reign started in Guadalajara 2011, where she won the individual tournament, the doubles (along with Samantha Salas) and the team competition. Then, in Toronto, Longoria was the standard-bearer of her delegation and was unbeatable on the court. In the Canadian city she teamed up again with Salas and repeated her wins in the three modalities.
For the Lima meetup, Longoria aspires again to climb to the top of the podium three times. Will she make it?
KIM RHODE’S LENGEDARY AIM
Kim Rhode is a legendary American shooter, the only woman in history who has won medals in six consecutive Olympic Games. In addition, she has a long history in Pan American Games.
Her debut in the Pan American Games took place at the Santo Domingo edition of 2003, where she won a title in the Double Pit. Then, in Rio de Janeiro 2007, she finished second in the skeet, behind her fellow U.S. shooter Haley Dunn. At the Guadalajara Games, Rhode won the skeet, this time with a Pan-American record, and expanded her dominance in the region in Toronto 2015, once again winning the Skeet. In that appointment she had the honor of being the flag bearer for her country at the opening ceremony. In her four appearances at the Pan American Games, Rhode has won three gold medals and one silver.
At 40 years old and with an eye on the Summer appointment of Tokyo 2020, Rhode will be another one of the stars present in Lima 2019.