Cealy Tetley Photo
Cealy Tetley Photo

Day 9 at Santiago 2023: Team Canada clinches Olympic berth, 10 medals at Pan Am Games

There was another important Olympic qualification secured by Canadian athletes for Paris 2024 on Day 9 of the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games. 

Team Canada also claimed 10 medals on the day, as athletes from equestrian, canoe/kayak slalom, and judo all reached the podium.

Here are the top headlines of the day:

Equestrian: Canada wins team eventing gold, qualifies for Paris 2024

Canada captured the gold medal in team eventing on Saturday, qualifying a full team in the discipline for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games after sending just a single athlete to Tokyo 2020. 

  • Four horseback riders in Team Canada red and black jacketes and white pants wave to a crowd.
  • A woman wearing a black helmet and Team Canada jacket has a gold medal around her neck and waves to a crowd.

Colleen Loach, the lone Canadian eventer at the last Olympics, played a critical role on the Pan Am team with her horse Fe Golden Eye. Joining her were Lindsay Traisnel (riding Bacyrouge), Karl Slezak (riding Hot Bobo), and Michael Winter (riding El Mundo), who all helped secure the Olympic berth. 

“The qualification was our major goal this week and we achieved it, so we’re on to the party!” said Slezak.

Canada began the eventing competition by placing second in the dressage test on Friday and were then in third place after Saturday’s cross-country test, trailing only the United States, who had already secured an Olympic berth, and Brazil. 

Still, the Canadian quartet hopped over the Americans and Brazilians with outstanding performances in the final jumping test. Led by Traisnel, who won individual bronze, Team Canada finished with a score of 115.6, giving them a 0.1-point victory over the silver medal-winning Americans. Slezak, Winter, and Loach finished 4-5-6 in the individual standings.

“It was kind of unexpected. We just went out and did our thing today. And got amazing results! We are just so proud of our team, we work great together and I was just so happy to be part of it,” Traisnel said of the gold medal. “It was definitely the most important part of our trip, getting that qualification, so we’re very happy to have done that.”

READ: Tracking Team Canada’s qualification for Paris 2024 at Santiago 2023

Canoe/Kayak Slalom: Canada’s five-medal day on the Aconcagua

Canadian athletes paddled to five medals in canoe/kayak slalom events on the Aconcagua River in the Chilean Andes Mountains. 

Lois Betteridge kickstarted the medal haul, winning the silver medal in the women’s C-1 event with a final score of 119.69. While she passed the first six gates without issue, she had difficulties later on the course, costing her the gold medal opportunity. Brazil’s Ana Satila won her third straight C-1 gold at the Pan Am Games with a score of 108.52, while the bronze went to Paraguay’s Ana Paula Fernandes Castro with 160.97. 

  • Lois Betteridge paddles her canoe past a green and white striped gate
  • Three female athletes, including one in Team Canada attire stand on the podium.
  • Lea Baldoni paddles her kayak past green and white striped gates
  • Three women stand on a podium wearing medals
  • A close up of Mael Rivard in his kayak
  • Three male athletes, including one in Team Canada attire stand on the podium.

“It was definitely a challenging course. There’s not a lot of whitewater features, so you have to pull really hard to get some of the moves, so I got deep today,” Betteridge said. “I’m super stoked; this is my second silver medal at the Pan Am Games… it would have been nicer to finish in first, but second behind Ana [Satila], who is one of the best in the world, is still pretty exciting.”

Betteridge added to her collection later in the day with another silver medal in the women’s kayak cross event, bringing her Pan Am Games career total to three, having won C-1 silver at Lima 2019.

In the men’s kayak cross, Alex Baldoni captured the silver medal, adding to a young career that has already seen him win silver in the senior men’s C-1 event at the 2023 Pan American Championships. 

“I’m feeling pretty good. It wasn’t my best start off the ramp, but it was really tight with [Guilherme Marcello] Mapelli, and it was a very good fight, and I’m really happy with the silver medal,” Baldoni said. 

Maël Rivard captured the bronze medal in the men’s K-1 event in a tightly contested race on the same course, as he finished with a score of 99.56, just 0.43 points ahead of fourth-place Chilean, Andraz Echeverria Olguin. 

After finishing fourth through the time trial, heats, and semifinals, Rivard found another gear in the final, pushing himself up a single spot and onto the podium to earn his first Pan Am Games medal, trailing only Joshua Joseph of the United States and Brazil’s Pedro Gonclaves, who posted 91.12 and 94.08 points, respectively. 

“It was a hard race, it was cold, the course was pretty hard, and it’s shallow here,” Rivard said. “I really just went for it, and it worked out.”

Léa Baldoni rounded out the Canadian medal haul in the river, winning bronze in the women’s K-1 event with a score of 116.06, her first major senior-level medal, having reached the U23 World Championship and Pan Am Championship podium in the past. 

“It was a lot of fighting; I had to fight until the end,” she said. “I still got the third fastest time today, so I’m very happy, and I’m tired but happy to bring a medal back for Canada.”

Judo: Canadian judokas thrive with three medals on the mat 

Canadian judokas added three more medals on Day 9, adding to the silver won by Julien Frascadore the day before.

Isabelle Harris captured the women’s 63kg silver medal, after taking her only loss of the day in the final against Cuba’s Maylín del Toro Carvajal. She had defeated Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Ketleyn Quadros of Brazil in the semifinals and Prisca Awiti Alcaraz of Mexico in the quarterfinals.

“I wish I could have gone all the way and got the gold today, but I am so proud of the process because it was some really tough fights for the quarterfinals and semifinals, so I’m proud of those fights, but still disappointed I didn’t finish with gold,” Harris said. 

Meanwhile, Antoine Bouchard turned back the clock to win his second Pan Am Games medal, capturing bronze in the men’s 73kg competition. He previously stood on the Pan Am Games podium with a silver medal at Toronto 2015. 

“Last April, I told myself that I would try to qualify for the Pan American Games and to get a gold medal,” Bouchard said after his event. “Sadly, it didn’t happen, but I still managed to go get a bronze medal in a really tough match, and I’m really proud of myself for doing that.”

David Popovici ended the day with a third medal for Canada, beating Cuba’s Maikel Londres McKenzie in a men’s 81kg bronze medal contest. 

“I’m happy and excited; I’m happy that what I worked on in practice helped me today,” Popovici said. “I had four fights today, four hard fights. My second didn’t go as planned, but I learned from it and was happy to bounce back for the bronze.”

Field Hockey: Canada moves to semifinals with perfect record

Team Canada’s men’s field hockey team closed out group play at Santiago 2023 with a 4-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago, clinching first place in their group with a 3-0 record, advancing to the semifinals. 

  • Team Canada field hockey
  • Team Canada field hockey
  • Team Canada field hockey

Matthew Sarmento opened the scoring for the Canadians 8:56 into the first quarter before Sean Davis scored with six seconds left in the second quarter to double the lead. Gordon Johnston and James Kirkpatrick scored the third and fourth goals off penalty corners in the third frame, securing the win for the Canadians.

“At the start of the tournament, we said we wanted to grow through each game through the pool. I think we’ve done that,” Canada’s head coach Patrick Tshutshani said. “Now we enter the second phase. We still have some improvements we want to make, and we want to keep accelerating our play.”

Canada is likely to face the host Chilean team in the semifinal as they look to qualify for the gold medal game and a chance to upgrade the silver medal they won at Lima 2019. The winner of the Pan Am Games will qualify directly for Paris 2024.

Other Team Canada news:

  • Rebecca Marino fell to Argentina’s Julia Riera in the women’s tennis bronze medal match, missing out on what would have been her first Pan Am Games medal. 
  • The reigning Olympic bronze medallists, Canada’s women’s softball team, opened their Pan Am Games campaign with a 4-0 win over Cuba. 
  • Canada’s Eugene Wang and Mo Zhang advanced to the semifinals of the mixed doubles table tennis competition, defeating Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre and Lucero Ovelar 4-0 in the quarterfinal.