Canadian Sports Meeting Objectives Halfway Through Pan American Games

Three Olympic Berths Secured by Canadian Athletes at Games

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) announced today that at the halfway point of the Pan American Games, Canada is tracking well against its strategic objectives, with a number of sports that have finished competing surpassing their performance goals for these Games.

The swim team, for example, exceeded its medal objectives by winning 18 medals in the pool and gaining valuable international Games experience for its relatively young team. In rowing, which ended July 19, every athlete on the team won at least won medal while taekwondo and weightlifting won three and one medal, respectively, at these Games. Neither sport won a medal at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

In addition, three sports – equestrian in the team dressage event, and shooting in the women’s 10-metre air pistol event and the men’s trap event – have earned berths for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing at these Games.

“Overall, we are pleased with the performance at this point of the Games,” said Chris Rudge, COC Chief Executive Officer. “The early trend seems to indicate that targeted funding of sport is having an impact on performance as many of the sports that have surpassed expectations so far have received Excellence funding to support Olympic podium performance.”

Chef de Mission Tricia Smith added that these Games have been an opportunity for athletes to learn how to win from their teammates in other sports. Every evening, Smith and Assistant Chef de Mission Jacques Cardyn hold an informal ceremony at the village to honour the day’s medallists, with each medallist receiving a Canadian flag and a gold-wrapped chocolate bar, a popular item with the athletes.

“The atmosphere is great because success inspires success and it motivates the athletes who haven’t competed yet to see their teammates achieve a medal performance. The ceremony also gives the medallists an opportunity to thank the team around them, particularly their coaches and medical staff, and wish the other athletes luck in their competitions,” said Smith.

“For our sport, which is an individual sport, we don’t usually have the opportunity to be with athletes from other sports,” said Greg Sych, a shooting athlete who competed in 50-metre rifle. “I’ve been to all the medallist ceremonies at the village and it does motivate you and prepare you mentally for your competition.”

The COC did not set an overall medal target for these Games, instead focusing on supporting those sports and athletes that have an opportunity for Olympic qualification through their performance here, the Pan American only sports for which this is their only opportunity to compete in a multi-sport Games, and to support those sports looking to acquire international Games experience. For many of the sports and athletes, the Pan American Games are serving as a simulation and rehearsal event for the Olympic Games next year in Beijing. Like the COC, sports are fine-tuning their sport science, sport medicine and technology support plans well in advance of the 2008 Olympic Games.

As of 2 p.m. today in Rio de Janeiro, Canada’s medal total was 64 – 13 gold, 22 silver and 29 bronze. This ranks Canada third in the overall medal count, with the United States of America leading with 133 medals, Brazil with 76 and Cuba with 55. At the halfway point (Day 8) of the 2003 Pan American Games, Canada had 47 medals, while at these 2007 Games, Canada had 60 medals at the end of Day 8. Canada won a total of 128 medals at the last Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 2003.

The 2007 Pan American Games are serving as a 2008 Olympic Games qualification event for several sports including equestrian, field hockey, handball, modern pentathlon, shooting, synchronized swimming, table tennis, triathlon and water polo.