COC Marks One Year to Guadalajara Pan American Games

One of the world’s biggest sport events will begin in Guadalajara, Mexico one year from today, with the largest contingent of Canadian athletes at any one event. The 2011 Pan American Games run Oct. 14 to 30 in Guadalajara, just nine months prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

“Canada is set to continue its incredible legacy at the Pan Am Games, and I am honoured to help lead our athletes toward what will be a great success,” said Jacques Cardyn, Canada’s Chef de Mission and 1983 Pan Am gold medallist in fencing. “You cannot overstate the importance of this event, particularly as a testing ground for London.”

The Pan Am Games – which come to Toronto and the Greater Golden Horseshoe in 2015 – are a major, multi-sport event with athletes from an expected 42 nations set to compete in Mexico. While the Canadian team will not be finalized until late summer of 2011, the number of athletes is anticipated to be more than the 470 that competed in Rio de Janeiro in 2007. That represented the second-largest athlete delegation in Canada’s history.

“The Pan Am Games are an amazing experience for our Canadian athletes, a true stepping stone in elite events,” said Curt Harnett, Canada’s Assistant Chef de Mission and two-time Pan Am medallist in cycling. “Representing your country at an international event of this magnitude is a significant milestone for every athlete.”

At the XVI Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, 36 sports will be contested. These include all Olympic sports, as well as several current Pan Am-only sports: baseball, Basque, bowling, karate, pelota, racquetball, roller skating, rugby, softball, squash, and water ski. In addition, these Games will serve as a vital tune-up for the London 2012 Olympic Games, with 15 sports having either direct or indirect Olympic qualification implications.

While Canada does not set a medal target for Pan Am Games, it traditionally finishes top three in total medals. In 2007, Canada placed third with 138 total medals. Canada sits third in the overall historical Pan Am Games standings with 1,577 total medals, behind only Cuba and the United States.

“Canada will send a tremendously talented team to Guadalajara, and many of these athletes will be vying for qualification at the 2012 Olympic Games in London,” said Canadian Olympic Committee CEO Jean R. Dupré. “These athletes represent our elite class of summer competitors and we hope all Canadians will support them on their road to success.”