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Bethany Zelasko holds her board

STRIVE: Grab a first look at the newest Olympic Sports

The Pan American Games are an amazing show of sporting excellence across North, South and Central America. Four years ago, Toronto came alive as it hosted the Pan Am Games, and now the excitement heads to Lima, Peru for two weeks of triumph, tenacity and team work that started on July 26th and ends on August 11th.

There are many interesting things to keep watch of at the Pan Am Games. First, it includes some sports that don’t exist in the Olympic Games, including Bowling, Roller Speed Skating and Squash.

Scott Tupper leads Team Canada into the Opening Ceremony of the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games.

LIMA, Peru – Members of Team Canada enter the Estadio Nacional to officially start the Lima 2019 Pan American Games on July 26, 2019. Photo by Vincent Ethier/COC

Here are four of the sports that will be making their debut at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020, that you can get a sneak peak of at Lima 2019. And who doesn’t love a good inside scoop!


Surfing will make its debut at the Lima 2019 Games with four disciplines. Longboard, shortboard, SUP race and SUP surf events that will be held between July 29 and August 4.

A longboard has one fin, a rounded nose and a more stable base than a shortboard. A shortboard has three fins and a pointier nose.

RELATED: FAQ: Lima 2019 Pan American Games

SUP stands for “stand-up paddleboard”, the race being a paddling race of multiple athletes at once and the surf competition being a tricks competition on waves aided by the paddle.

The surf competition will be an exciting spectacle as we watch Team Canada compete for the sport’s first gold medal. The competition at the Pan Am Games will also be useful when looking towards Tokyo 2020, with amazing Canadian talent like Mathea Olin and Finn Spencer coming up with hopes of representing their country at the Olympic Games.

Carissa Moore surfing during a competition

Carissa Moore competes in U.S. Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach Pier on Wednesday, July 27, 2016, in Huntington Beach, Calif. (Kyusung Gong/The Orange County Register via AP)


Karate has been a sport at the Pan Am Games since 1995, but 2019 is the first year that Pam Am has higher stakes. That’s because Karate will make its debut at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.

Athletes from all over North America will compete for the podium in two forms of Karate, Kata and Kumite.

RELATED: Olympic Qualification for Tokyo 2020 at Lima 2019

Kata is an individual event where athletes perform a specified series of a variety of moves, with stepping and turning, while attempting to maintain perfect form. Judges then score them on their timing, balance, power and speed. Kumite is hand-to-hand combat where opponents can strike each others’ head, torso, sides and back.

Karate is a must-watch sport in Lima 2019 because of its fast pace, and the concentration required. Some athletes to watch are Rita Ha Thi Ngo and Daniel Gaysinsky, as they compete for a spot on the Olympic team.

Canada's Haya Jumaa competes against an opponent from China

Photo taken during Bronze bout of 2017 Karate 1 Premier League Paris:
Canada China Female kumite -61 kg Jumaa Haya Yin Xiaoyan


Another sport familiar within the Pan Am Games is Baseball, having been a Pam American sport since 1951, with Softball having been included since 1979. Baseball has long been in and out of Olympic Games over the years.

Canada is a dominant force in Softball, with the men’s team winning every single gold since its Pan Am introduction and the women landing on the podium every year, with two golds to their name. No pressure!

RELATED: Life in the village as a Lima 2019 Pan American Athlete

Baseball and Softball have not been Olympic sports since Beijing 2008, and now, more than a decade later they will be back in the Games for one year and gone the next. But if you really want to see the best of the best in Canadian Baseball and Softball talent, and you want don’t wait for another year, then you can tune into the Pan American Games for a little preview before Tokyo 2020. After that we will have to wait and see when we will see the sport next.

Men's softball team poses with their medals

Canadian men’s softball team takes gold in the final match against Venezuela at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.

The Pan American Games are filled with amazing showings of athleticism and sporting excellence, covering a wide range of sports not always seen at the Olympic Games. With exciting moves being made and more sports recognized by the International Olympic Committee every year, more athletes are looking for their place to shine on the Pan Am and Olympic stage.

RELATED: Lima travel guide: Top 10 places to visit

We can make these dreams a reality. Your generous contributions to the Canadian Olympic Foundation help support the next generation of athletes through their training to be the best in the world. It helps our newest athletes in these new disciplines to never give up hope that they too will be Olympians one day.

Team Canada thanks you for your continued support and for cheering us on every step of the way!