Canada Ends Pan American Games on High Note by Securing Eight Olympic Berths

Team Tied for Third Place in Overall Medal Count

The Canadian team ended a successful performance at the 15th Pan American Games today, securing eight Beijing Olympic berths, and tied for third-place in the overall medal count, with four sports – men’s marathon, men’s basketball, men’s tennis and equestrian individual show jumping – to be completed today. With Canadian show jumpers Jill Henselwood of Oxford Mills, Ont. and Ian Millar of Perth, Ont. sitting in second and third place going into this afternoon’s final, it’s likely at least one medal will be added to Canada’s total.

“We’ve had some terrific performances at these Games and we’re proud of all the Canadian athletes who competed here,” said Canadian Chef de Mission Tricia Smith of Vancouver, a four-time Olympian and multiple World Championship medallist in rowing. “We had medals in a wide variety of sports and certainly felt we created an environment for success at these Games that we want to duplicate in Beijing.”

Smith and Assistant Chef de Mission Jacques Cardyn of Montreal, an Olympian and Pan American Games gold medallist in fencing, also announced that triple gold medallist in rhythmic gymnastics, Alexandra Orlando, 20, of Toronto has been named Canada’s flag bearer for this evening’s closing ceremony. Orlando will lead about 150 Canadian athletes who are still onsite in Rio de Janeiro into famed Maracana Stadium for the closing.

“I’m surprised and honoured to be selected as Canada’s flagbearer,” said Orlando, who won three gold medals in the individual hoop, rope and club apparatus finals. “So many Canadian athletes have had great performances here and it’s going to be a proud moment to represent them by carrying the Canadian flag into the stadium.”

With only a few events left to be contested today, Canada has a total of 135 medals (38 gold, 43 silver and 54 bronze). Four years ago at the Pan Am Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republican, Canada won a total of 128 medals: 29 gold, 57 silver and 42 bronze. The United States of America currently leads the medal count with 237 medals, Brazil is second with 157 and Cuba is tied with Canada for third with 135 medals.

“These Games were our first major rehearsal for Beijing and we picked up a lot of strategic information that will help us close the gap on leading nations’ performance,” said Alex Gardiner, COC Senior Director, Olympic Programming-Technical. “We have conducted extensive debriefs with every targeted sport to ensure planning for Beijing is optimized.”

Canada did not set a medal target for these Games, focusing instead on Olympic qualification, Pan American only sports and helping each sport federation to achieve its individual goals for these Games. For many of the sports and athletes, these Games have served 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.

The sports and events that qualified for Beijing are:

  • • Equestrian – in team eventing, team dressage and team jumping
  • • Field hockey – the men’s team beat Argentina in double overtime to win gold and an Olympic berth
  • • Modern Pentathlon – one men’s and one women’s quota position
  • • Shooting – in the women’s 10 metre air pistol and men’s trap