The 17th edition of the Pan American Games is already history. Our memory will store several moments, from the opening ceremony, with Cirque Du Soleil playing the leading role, to performances by dozens of athletes from different countries — 19 nations obtained at least one medal — who wrote their name on the champions book of the most important sports event of the continent. However, not everybody could match predictions in this edition of the Games and some incidents were reported, which many people would certainly like to forget. PanamericanWorld points out five disappointments that took place at the Canadian city.
80 Pan American records were established in this edition of the Games, a significant figure that speaks high of the competitive quality, but Toronto was also marked by a negative element: the number of doping cases detected.
Four athletes were punished by the authorities in Guadalajara, but that number got tripled in 2015. Perhaps the cases with higher media repercussion were related to Peruvian swimmer Mauricio Fiol, silver medalist in 200 m butterfly, and Colombian veteran cyclist Maria Luisa Calles.
Furthermore, the Pan American sports Organization suspended, among other athletes, wrestlers Luz Clara Vazquez (Argentina), Elverine Jimenez (Nicaragua) and Stephanie Bragayrac (Paraguay), boxer Merin Zalazar (Honduras), cyclist Carlos Oyarzun (Chile), weight lifter Cinthya Dominguez (Mexico), weight lifter Patrick Mendes (Brazil) and baseball players Nelson Gomez (Puerto Rico), Mario Mercedes Castillo (Dominican Republic) and Javier Jesus Ortiz Angulo (Colombia).
The Cuban delegation experienced its worst performance in Pan American Games since the Cali edition, in 1971. For over four decades that country held the second position on the medals table and it even won the Games in 1991. The authorities had declared that the aim was to finish after the United States; nevertheless, since the first days everybody knew for sure that this prediction wouldn’t be fulfilled.
Several disciplines finished way below expectations. For instance, athletics won five gold medals, while it collected 18 in Guadalajara; wrestling went down from 9 to 4; moreover, collective sports couldn’t win either, just like it happened back in 2011. The baseball team was the top letdown, which ranked third again. The complicated situation was made worse by the fact that over 20 athletes decided to abandon the delegation and they traveled to the Unites States. The field hockey team case was the most dramatic one as it lost half of its members and it had to compete with numerical inferiority in the last challenge.
Cuba won 36 titles and 97 medals, the country’s lowest outcome since Winnipeg, in 1967. The fourth position on the medals table entails an alert message for Cuban sports.
Brazilian Soccer Fails Again
The Brazilian soccer realm is not living its best moment. The failures in World Cups held in 2010 and 2014, Olympic Games 2012 and editions of Copa America 2011 – 2015, are joined by the third position in Toronto.
The last Pan American title won by a Brazilian team was delivered in Indianapolis, 1987, with Claudio Tafarel goalkeeper. The gold medal has been elusive ever since. In Toronto, all teams featured -22 lineups and the Brazilians were about to go to the final, as minute 75 was running, they were wining against Uruguay, 1-0, and they had an extra man on the field. It was then when the Uruguayan team surprised its rivals and scored two goals during the last five minutes. Afterwards, Brazil had to work hard so as to get the bronze, at least, by defeating Panama in extra time.
The days when Brazilian “jogo bonito” used to shine in different fields around the world seem to be far back in the past.
Setback for Argentinean Lions
Argentina’s Lions were the queens of field hockey since that sports made its debut in Pan American Games, back in Indianapolis 1987. That great team won six titles in a row, but everything changed in Guadalajara when US players prevailed in the final. Many people were surprised by that result, which could hardly happen again; nonetheless, the same rivals met face to face in Toronto and, once again, the US team was the winner, 2-1.
“The defeat was very hard four years ago, since we hadn’t qualified to London 2012 at the time and it was like cold water over us. Today’s result hurts, but it’s different now because there are young girls and we don’t have the qualifying pressure. The group is growing and this medal is like gold for us, although we’re kind of spoilt”, veteran Macarena Rodriguez said.
Mariana Pajon’s Fall
Setbacks always hurt, even more when it’s the worst case scenario: an accident during the competition. Colombia’s performance in the Pan American Games was outstanding, since it won 27 titles and ranked fifth, right in front of Mexico.
BMX cycling was a win-win discipline for Colombia, with the presence of Mariana Pajon, champion in Guadalajara and Olympic medalist in London. In both qualifying round and semifinal stage, Pajon finished first and she was labeled favorite to win the final.
Pajon was leading the lap, but she fell in the first curve. A second later she was hit by Venezuelan Stefany Hernandez, who was following her and fell too. In this unpleasant way Pajon lost her almost in-hand Pan American crown.