Canada is one of the most outstanding countries in the history of Pan-American Games. The northern nation ranks third on the list of winning-countries of all times, with 1,696 medals, 377 of which are golden. These numbers are only surpassed by the two main sports powers on the continent: United States and Cuba. Canada has participated with delegations in 15 out of the 16 editions that have been held and one of its cities, Winnipeg, hosted the event in 1967 and 1999. In 2015, Toronto is going to be the venue of the most important multi-sports event of the region.
What are the most remarkable Canadian athletes in Pan-American Games? We invite you to learn more about five tremendous figures that made history in these competitions.
JOANNE MALAR. SWIMMING
Malar is the athlete that holds the highest number of medals won in Pan-American Games, 19, between Havana, 1991, and Santo Domingo, 2003. With this figure she has prevailed over US archer Denise Parker, who has gotten 15 medals.
Malar made her Pan-American debut at the Cuban capital city, when she was only 16 years old. She couldn’t reach the highest step of the podium in that event, but she did prove to be a great swimmer, capable of obtaining positive results in the four styles. 200 meters medley was her strongest point and she was the queen in competition in three editions of the Pan-American Games in a row (1995-2003); furthermore, she stood out in 400 meters medley and won in 1995 and 1999. Out of her 19 medals, collected in 12 years, 6 were golden and the rest were silver (9) and bronze (4).
This extraordinary swimmer retired at the age of 30. She never achieved an Olympic medal, but she made history by winning 30 Canadian titles and over 70 medals in different international events.
DENYSE JULIEN. BADMINTON
This badminton player will always be remembered because of her great versatility and longevity. Between 1981 and 2003, Julien won 31 gold medals in national events and 13 of her titles were obtained in the individual mode.
Badminton made its debut in Pan-American Games during the Mar del Plata edition, in 1995. Julien was about to be 35 years old at the time, but that advanced age for an athlete didn’t stop her from shinning. The Argentinean city saw her win three gold medals, in individual, double (with Sian Deng) and mixed doubles (with Darryll Yung). Four years later, in Winnipeg, Julien was back on the podium: she got the title in mixed doubles (with Iain Sydie), lost the double finals and won bronze in individual. Her last participation in the Pan-American Games took place in Santo Domingo, 2003, where she got the third title in a row in mixed doubles (with Philippe Bourret) and silver in doubles. All in all, in three Pan-American events Julien conquered eight medals, five of which were golden.
RAY TILLEY. SOFTBALL
Male softball in Pan-American Games has been totally mastered by Canada. This team won the seven editions of the Pan-American Games where this sport was included, 1979 – 2003. Afterwards, male softball was taken out of the Games’ official schedule, just as the rest of disciplines that were not present in the Olympic Games. However, after 12 years of absence this sport will be back on the program in Toronto 2015.
Among the tens of skillful softball players in Canada, Ray Tilley has stood out in Pan-American Games, with four gold medals collected in consecutive events, between Caracas, 1983 —where he batted three home runs— and Mar del Plata, 1995. In all of these editions of the Games, the Canadian team defeated the United States’. Tilley defended positions on the field and stood as the designated hitter. In 2012 he was included in the Hall of Fame of the International Softball Federation.
PAUL “BUBLI” CHOHAN. FIELD HOCKEY
Chohan has been one of Canada’s most brilliant field hockey players. “Bubli” was a member of the Canadian national team for nearly two decades and he played 317 official games. This athlete participated in three Olympic Games, three World Cups and six Pan-American Games.
Chohan’s first medal in Pan-American Games was silver, in Mexico City, 1975, where Canada lost against Argentina. Four years later, in San Juan, the result was similar, but in Caracas, 1983, the Canadian team prevailed over the South American one. Afterwards, in Indianapolis, 1987, Chohan was the standard-bearer of the Canadian delegation and guided his team up to the Pan-American title.
Bubli’s last medal in these events was collected in 1991, in Havana, where his team was once again defeated by Argentina. Altogether, Chohan won five medals, two of which were golden.
GERALD OUELLETTE. SHOOTING
In the history of Pan-American Games, Ouellette is the Canadian athlete with the highest number of medals, 12 (2 gold medals, 4 silvers and 6 bronzes. This amazing shooter joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1955 and served for 20 years. In 1956, in his first international competition, he amazed everybody as he won the Olympic title in the Melbourne Games.
Three years later, in the Pan-American Games organized in Chicago, Ouellette showed his flawless shooting skill, as he conquered two titles with the small-bore carbine 3×40, in laying position and the team version of this test. In the two subsequent Pan-American editions, in Sao Paulo, 1963, and Winnipeg, 1967, Ouellette was on the podium, although he didn’t get the gold.
Captain Ouellette had a tragic end, since he died at the age of 40 when the plane he was flying crashed. As a result of his victories, Gerald Ouellette was included in the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.