A common refrain about Toronto 2015 has been: why should we care?
Well, other than it being a high level multi-sport competition at which some of the best athletes in the world are competing, it’s also a prime opportunity for Canadian athletes and teams to qualify for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.
One of the goals of the Olympic Games is to ensure that all continents are represented in all sports. So in addition to global qualification events, such as world championships, there are also continental qualification events. Canadian athletes are lucky enough to have several of those on home soil at the Pan Am Games.
The Canadian duet of Karine Thomas and Jacqueline Simoneau can earn a ticket to Rio with a win on July 11. They’re in good position, with a healthy lead after the technical routine. Unlike past Pan Am Games, there is no Olympic team berth up for grabs because Brazil as the host nation has already been given the continental berth for the Americas. Canada will have to wait until a special qualification tournament next spring to earn a spot.
The winners of each of the men’s and women’s individual 3m springboard and 10m platform events earn Olympic berths for their country. If the Canadians come up short, they’ve got a couple more opportunities ahead, including the FINA World Championships which begin July 24 in Kazan, Russia and the FINA Diving World Cup early in 2016 in Rio.
The winning men’s water polo team will get a spot in the Olympic tournament. The winning women’s team does not, as Brazil has been granted the continental berth for the Americas. But fear not. Teams who don’t qualify in Toronto have another opportunity at a qualification tournament in the spring.
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The first Pan Am Games to feature canoe/kayak slalom will have the competition double as the continental qualifier. But this one is a little tricky. The ICF World Championships in September are the primary qualification event, so the Pan Am results will be used retroactively to calculate which countries have earned Olympic spots following the allocation of spots at the worlds. The Americas are guaranteed a representative in each of the men’s K-1, women’s K-1 and men’s C-1.
Canada has already qualified an eventing team thanks to a sixth place finish at last year’s World Equestrian Games, so the pressure is on the other countries to win the gold medal and the Olympic berth. But Canada will be aiming to qualify a dressage team and a jumping team. It will take a team victory in dressage, while the top two teams in jumping will qualify their countries for Rio. There are also some individual berths available.
Field Hockey and Handball
It’s simple in field hockey and handball: win and you’re in. The gold medallists in all of the men’s and women’s events will get to compete in Rio.
There are a total of five Olympic spots available in each of the men’s and women’s events. One will go to an athlete from the NORCECA region (North America, Central America, Caribbean). One will go to an athlete from South America. And then there are three places available for all of the Americas.
Canada has already qualified for Rio in the two events that have Olympic berths on the line for the winners, the Laser and Laser Radial.
There are a plethora of Olympic berths waiting to be won. The winners of the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions, men’s 50m rifle prone, men’s 50m pistol, men’s 25m rapid fire pistol, men’s 10m air pistol, men’s double trap, women’s 25m pistol, women’s 10m air pistol, women’s trap and women’s skeet all earn spots for Rio, as do the top two finishers in the men’s 10m air rifle, men’s trap, men’s skeet, women’s 50m rifle 3 positions and women’s 10m air rifle.
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It’s another win and you’re in scenario for the gold medallists in the men’s and women’s singles events. Canada’s next chance to qualify will come at the North American continental qualification event in April.
Once again, an Olympic spot will go to the winners of the men’s and women’s events. After that, the Canadians will be relying on getting in based on a world ranking.