Leah Hennel/COC
Leah Hennel/COC

Day 13 at Santiago 2023: Double gold in athletics, medal rushes in fencing and wrestling

The Santiago 2023 Pan American Games may be approaching their conclusion, but Team Canada isn’t slowing down on its medal count! Among today’s top performances were some incredible drama on the track, multiple medals for Canadian fencers and wrestlers, and several athletes advancing to medal finals.

Here are some of the key stories from today:

Athletics: Electric night at the track for Team Canada

It was a thrilling night at the track for Team Canada fans!

Charles Philibert-Thiboutot and Robert Heppenstall started things off with a bang by going 1-2 in the men’s 1500m. A sprint finish saw each of the Canadians pass three athletes on the home straight, with Philibert-Thiboutot diving for the win in 3:39.74, just 0.02 ahead of his teammate.

“The last lap a lot of people made moves, so it became really crowded…so crowded that with 80 metres to go I was stuck behind a wall of guys. I almost tripped trying to go wide and passing them,” Philibert-Thiboutot said post-race. “Once I had a clear line in front of me to the line, I saw that Robert was leading, and I was like ‘yes, we’re going to go 1-2!’ and then I remembered that I really want this damn gold, I want it so bad, so I dove at the line.”

Sarah Mitton was also golden, taking home the win in the women’s shot put. Mitton threw 19.19m for the win and was followed onto the podium by Rosa Ramirez of the Dominican Republic (17.99) and Adelaide Aquilla of the USA (17.73).

“Every major competition for me, I take it individually, and the Pan Am Games, I had an experience in Peru in 2019 where I did okay for my first Games, but I really wanted to come here and earn that [medal] for my country,” Mitton said afterwards. “I love the Games environment, the team environment is amazing.”

She loves it so much that she was willing to cut her offseason a bit short after a busy summer (that included a silver at the World Athletics Championships) in order to begin training again ahead of Santiago 2023.

Julie-Anne Staehli kept things thrilling on the track, working her way to a bronze medal in the women’s 5000m. Staehli pushed the pace from the front for much of the race, running a final time of 16:06.75. The gold medal went to Joselyn Brea of Venezuela (16:04.12) and the silver to American Taylor Werner (16:06.48).

“It went really fast in the final 800m — you just had to be there. I gave everything I had in the last straightaway, so no regrets,” Staehli said post-race. “This is a really great way to end the season. This was my first Pan American Games and it was just overall an incredible experience.”

Fencing: Double silver for men’s épée, women’s foil teams

In the first team fencing events of Santiago 2023, the Canadian men’s épée and women’s foil teams got all the way to their respective finals, where they ran into some tough opponents from the United States.

The men — Dylan French, Fynn Fafard and Nicholas Zhang — took a close loss, 42-41. This is the second medal in Santiago for French, who took the gold medal in the individual épée on Monday.

Team Canada’s women followed up with a silver of their own in the team foil final, losing 44-33 to the U.S. after a very strong day. Team Canada was represented by Jessica Guo, Sabrina Fang and Eleanor Harvey. Harvey won silver and Guo took bronze in the individual foil on Monday.

This is the fifth consecutive Pan Am Games medal for Canada in the women’s team foil.

“In Toronto 2015 [her first Pan Am Games experience], it was a completely different group of people, but we still have carried the same vibe of being super supportive and just being really proud of each other,” said Harvey.

Wrestling: Three more medals for Canadians

Hannah Taylor will bring home a silver medal in the women’s 57kg weight class for Canada after a tough battle in the final with Giullia Rodrigues of Brazil. The wrestlers were evenly matched and finished the bout with six points apiece, with Rodrigues taking the win based on technical points.

“I’m happy that I was able to put on a performance that I can be proud of. I feel like I left everything out there,” Taylor said post-match. “I did end up losing 6-6 which shows that I’m right up there with the gold medallist. I’m happy to bring a medal home to Prince Edward Island.”

  • Hannah Taylor pumps her fist as she pins her opponent to the mat

Hunter Lee won bronze in the men’s 86kg freestyle event. He defeated Ethan Ramos of Puerto Rico 14-4 in the bronze medal bout.

“I’ve never been to a Pan Am Games or any sort of Games before, so happy to get a bronze in my first one, but it’s onto the next. I kinda wanted that gold, so happy with the bronze, but not satisfied,” said Lee.

Olivia Di Bacco added a bronze medal to the haul with a win over Amber Garnica of Mexico in the women’s 68kg freestyle event by a final score of 8-6.

“Bronze is not the colour that I wanted coming to these Pan Am Games, nor the colour that I’m capable of, but sometimes a win can be a win that’s ugly, and that’s okay,” Di Bacco said afterwards. “I’m just continuing to work on a lot of mental refocusing as we move through this Olympic qualification year.”

Squash: Bunyan and Crowne through to final

Nicole Bunyan and George Crowne will play for gold in mixed doubles after winning their semifinal 2-0 (11-8, 11-9), against Luis Quisquinay and Tabita Gaitan of the Independent Athletes Team. That final is on Friday.

“We put together a really just solid performance I thought, it was a really good test of both of our characters that we stayed confident, even if we didn’t necessarily feel it,” said Bunyan. “Hopefully it’s just a really good showing of squash in general,” she added, noting the sport’s inclusion on the Olympic program for LA 2028.

Sailing: Canada qualifies for Paris 2024 in women’s kite, other boats to medal races

Ali ten Hove and Mariah Millen head into Friday’s medal race of the 49er FX in second place. They won two of the three races in the class on Thursday and now sit with 22 points, just two back of the leaders from Brazil and tied with the third place boat from the United States. There is one Olympic spot available in this class for the top-ranked country from North America and the Caribbean. The United States is already qualified and cannot earn another spot.

William Jones and Justin Barnes are in third place in the 49er heading into that medal race. There is also one Olympic spot available in this class for the top North American or Caribbean country. The United States currently leads the class, but have already qualified for Paris 2024.

Canada is assured of an Olympic spot in the new discipline of women’s kite. Emily Bugeja finished sixth in the event, but that makes Canada the top-ranked country from North America and the Caribbean not yet qualified for Paris 2024.

Sarah Douglas continues to hold onto second place in the ILCA 6. She already earned an Olympic spot for Canada at this summer’s world championships. Lee Parkhill leads the non-Olympic Sunfish event. There is still one more opening series race in both of those classes tomorrow before the medal races.

Bowling: Silver for Lavoie and Hupé

François Lavoie and Mitch Hupé teamed up to secure Team Canada a silver medal in the men’s doubles bowling. The Canadian team bowled a score of 3435, finishing behind Panama (3511) and ahead of Costa Rica (3430). Lavoie previously won doubles gold at Toronto 2015 with Dan MacLelland.

Water Polo: Team Canada advances to semis

The Canadian women advanced to the semifinals with a 33-2 win over Chile in the quarterfinals. Verica Bakoc scored seven goals while Elyse Lemay-Lavoie added six. They’ll face Brazil in the semifinals on Friday.

  • Canadian women's water polo team huddle around their coach
  • Elyse Lemay Lavoie holds the ball in the air ready to throw it
  • Verica Bakoc watches the ball she just threw

On the men’s side, Team Canada defeated Mexico 20-5 to advance to the semifinals. They will also play against Team Brazil tomorrow.

Canoe Kayak Sprint: Three more boats into finals

The list of Team Canada paddlers headed to the finals is growing. On Thursday, Connor Fitzpatrick won his men’s C-1 1000m heat to advance directly to that A final, while Courtney Stott and Madeline Schmidt finished second in their women’s K-2 500m heat to also advance directly to the A final. Cameron Low needed an extra race, but won his semifinal heat in the men’s K-1 1000m to get into that A final.

Field Hockey: Women to play for bronze

The Canadian women will play for bronze after a 3-0 loss to Argentina in the semifinals. The bronze medal match will take place on Saturday against the host nation Chile.

“It’s always fun to play one of the best teams in the world and it’s a really awesome challenge. I think that there were moments that when we responded really well and we dared to play forward and dared to take it on, and I was proud of the team for those moments,” said Natalie Sourisseau after the game. “I think we need more of that through the entire game.”

Other Team Canada News:

  • Etienne Papineau leads the men’s golf tournament by three strokes after shooting a first round of nine-under par 63. Alena Sharp sits second after the women’s first round, two strokes back of the leader.
  • Martin Sobey just missed the podium in the men’s triathlon, finishing in fourth place, 20 seconds back of the bronze medallist. Dominika Jamnicky and Emy Legault finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the women’s race.
  • Canada defeated Mexico 6-1 in their first game of the softball super round. They carry a 1-1 record forward to tomorrow.
Brandie Wilkerson and Melissa Humana-Paredes carry the Canadian flag in front of their teammates

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