A man passes by a fountain in a shopping mall in Guadalajara ahead of preparations to host the XVI Pan American Games, October 12, 2011. The Games will be held from October 14 to 30.
Photograph by: Desmond Boylan, REUTERS
The Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico begin tomorrow and I am very proud to be watching my daughter, Erin Miller, who will be competing in the 100 meter and 200 meter Butterfly representing Canada!
Her first race is tomorrow so keep tuned to this blog for all the results or visit the official website
Why Canadians should care about Pan Am Games
Here's an explanation of the Games, and why Canadians should care when they open this week in Guadalajara.
Wait, didn't we just have some kind of big athletic competition last year?
Those were the Commonwealth Games, held in Delhi, India. These are the Pan American Games, open only to countries in North and South America. This is the 16th edition of the quadrennial multi-sport event, and it will include about 6,000 athletes from 42 countries competing in venues based in and around Guadalajara. Canada is sending a delegation of 794 athletes, coaches and support staff - the most the Canadians have sent to a Pan Am Games on foreign soil.Are we any good?
Yes, actually. Canada sits third on the all-time medals table with 1,577, behind only Cuba (1,796) and the United States (3,936). Canada finished third four years ago in Rio, with 138 medals. "We'll be around 140 medals - that's our target," Canadian chef de mission Jacques Cardyn said. "Now, which one will be gold, silver and bronze? That's the question."
Isn't October kind of an awkward time to host a summer games? For many sports, absolutely. The world championships for athletics were held last month, and these Pan Am Games fall well after other calendars have come to a close, which is why some of the more recognizable Canadian athletes are taking a pass on Mexico to focus instead on the London Olympics, which open in nine months. Then why should I care?
Success at the Pan Am Games can lead to direct qualification for the London Olympics in 11 sports, including diving, triathlon, synchronized swimming, tennis and canoe/ kayak. A handful of younger athletes will also be getting their first taste of competition in a multi-sport environment, and some could become names seen on the Olympic marquee. Plus, a handful of established veterans - such as flag-bearer Christine Sinclair (soccer), Dylan Armstrong (shot put) and Karen Cockburn (trampoline) - are still making the trip. Is it even being televised?
Well, sort of. The CBC signed on as a partner late last month, and while it boasts of plans to offer "over 50 hours of programming," it will not be quite like an Olympic experience for television viewers. There will be daily highlight shows beginning Oct. 15 through the duration of the Games, but they will be available, on demand, on cbcsports.ca. The CBC plans to carry the opening and closing ceremonies live online. A handful of media outlets, including Postmedia, will have representatives on the ground in Guadalajara. What kind of conditions will the athletes be facing in Mexico?
Guadalajara is the capital of the western Mexican state of Jalisco, and is known as the home of mariachi music and also as the heartland of tequila production. Until recently, it had also been known as something of a haven from the kind of drug-related violence that has gripped other areas of the country, especially along its border with the United States. A report in the Guadalajara Reporter, an English-language newspaper, said there will be as many as 10,000 police officers working alongside several hundred military personnel during the Games. Canada is hosting these things, at some point, aren't we?
On Nov. 6, 2009, Toronto beat out rival bids from Bogota, Colombia, and Lima, Peru, for the right to host the Pan American Games in 2015, with 33 of 52 first-ballot votes. Those Games will be held in venues spread across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond. Getting the locals to notice is a challenge facing Toronto 2015 CEO Ian Troop, who recently said a survey of 1,500 Canadians revealed only 40 per cent knew the event was headed to Canada. Troop aims to increase that awareness to at least 85 per cent by 2014. "That's a big challenge for us, admittedly," he said. "This is not something that has an immediate cache like the Olympics does. And one of our jobs is to go out there and build that awareness."