The 17th edition of the Pan-American Games is going to take place in Toronto, the second Canadian city that hosts the most important sports event on the continent. In over six decades, several teams have stood out on these events. Panamerican World gives you a list of the best five teams of the continent.
The Spectacular Caribbean Mulatto Girls: Pan-American Volleyball Queens
The Cuban female volleyball team has prevailed in this discipline in Pan-American Games. The “Spectacular Caribbean Mulatto Girls”, as they were called by a bright sportscaster, won seven titles in a row. Their reign began in Cali, 1971, and it only came to an end 24 years later, in Winnipeg, when the team was defeated by Brazil after five sets.
Throughout that time, several generations of extraordinary Cuban volleyball players, from Mercedes Perez and Imilsis Tellez to Mireya Luis and Regla Torres —described as the finest player of the 20th century— helped strengthen the image of a great team that made history by winning three Olympic titles.
After the crown-winning streak, the Cuban team has always been on the podium, as it lost the final in 2003 and 2011 and collected its eighth title in 2007. Mireya Luis has been the top medal-winning athlete, with four gold medals and one silver.
Cuban Baseball Players: Nearly Unbeatable in Pan-American Games
The Cuban baseball team is a can’t-miss element in the history of Pan-American Games. During four decades this team was invincible, thus conquering 10 crowns in a row between Cali, 1971, and Rio de Janeiro, 2007.
Those extraordinary results were in danger twice. The first one happened in Indianapolis, 1987, when the United States put a great university team on the field, made up of players that later shined in MLB, such as Tino Martinez; later on, in Winnipeg, both the Canadian and the US teams defeated the Cuban players and nearly took them out of the tournament. In both cases the Caribbean ninth fought to be back on the game and got the title.
In 1999 the professional baseball players were authorized to compete in international tournaments. Ever since, the Pan-American baseball has been far more competitive and interesting. However, Cuba held its dominance, until 2011 when it was beaten by the United States.
Among the most outstanding Cuban baseball players in Pan-American Games, it’s important to mention pitcher Braudilio Vinent and batters Antonio Pacheco, Victor Mesa, Lourdes Gourriel, Omar Linares, Luis Ulacia and Orestes Kindelan, winners of four crowns.
Argentina’s Lions: Six Consecutive Titles
Argentina’s Lions is probably the most recognized female team on the continent, the queens of field hockey, not only in Pan-American Games. The rich record of this team includes two world crowns (2002 and 2010) and four Olympic medals.
This sport made its debut in the Indianapolis Pan-American Games, 1987, and ever since the South American athletes have shown their worth. The Lions won six titles in a raw and they were only defeated by the United States, in Guadalajara 2011. Four Argentinean players have collected three Pan-American crowns: Anabel Gambero, Jorgelina Rimoldi, Marisa Lopez and Vanina P. Onetto.
United States: King on Water Polo
United States water polo team has ruled in Pan-American swimming pools. The US team has won 11 titles and four silver medals during the 15 editions of the Pan-American Games.
The northern athletes have prevailed in eight out of the nine past editions and they were only brought down by an inspired Cuban team, in Havana 1991. The most remarkable polo player has been Terry Schroeder, with four medals, three of which were golden.
Canada, United States: Northern Dominance in Softball
Pan-American softball dominated by two teams: Canada and the United States. The Canadian players won the seven editions that included this sport, 1979 – 2003. Afterwards, male softball was deleted from the Pan-American Games’ official schedule, as non-Olympic sports were taken out. Nevertheless, in Toronto 2015, after 12 years of absence, softball players will be back on the game. Canadian Ray Tilley has been the most outstanding athlete, with four crowns (1983, 1987, 1991 and 1995).
As for female teams, the US players have been in control. Female softball made its debut in 1979 and, out of the nine events, the North American team has won eight, seven in a row (1987-2011). Dorothy Richardson is the leading athlete, with five (four gold medals in 1979, 1987, 1995 and 1999).