Day 7 at Santiago 2023: Double boxing gold, Wilkerson and Humana-Paredes fight to the end
On Day 7 at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games, there were three more gold medals added to Team Canada’s total. Plus, flag bearers Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson did Canada proud and we know there are more medals to come from a couple of surfers.
Here are some of the top stories from today:
Boxing: Thibeault & Sanford punch their way to gold
It was an incredibly tight fight for Thibeault in the final of the women’s 75kg weight class against Atheyna Bylon of Panama. The two women have some history as it was Bylon who Thibeault defeated in the final of the 2022 World Championships.
In Santiago, Thibeault lost the first round on a split decision in which three of the judges favoured Bylon. But the Canadian came back to win over four of the judges in the second round and then unanimously won the third round to take the gold medal 5-0.
“I’m happy to get the job done. It was a messy fight. I definitely want to clean it up for next time, but I’m happy with this tournament and this trip. It’s been a long road and now it’s time to rest,” Thibeault said post-match. Rounding out the podium with bronze medals were Vanessa Ortiz of Mexico and Viviane Dos Santos of Brazil.
Thibeault made her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 where she advanced to the quarterfinals, matching Canada’s best-ever Olympic result in any women’s boxing event.
She was in the stands later in the day to watch teammate Sanford fight for a gold medal of his own in the men’s 63.5kg weight class.
It was a tough battle between Sanford, who also made his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, and Miguel Martinez Ramirez of Mexico. The first round went unanimously to Martinez Ramirez, but Sanford surged back to take both the second and third rounds unanimously to earn the victory.
“The best part is just listening to the national anthem play on top of the podium,” Sanford said post-fight. “We’ve got about 270 days until Paris — we’re taking a week off and then we’re back in the gym grinding it out.”
It will be matching gold medals for Sanford and his wife, diver Pamela Ware, who is taking home two golds and one silver from Santiago.
Beach Volleyball: Silver for flag bearers Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson
Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson gave it their all in the gold medal match against the fierce Brazilian duo of Ana Patricia Silva Ramos and Eduarda Santos Lisboa, also known as Duda. But the final result didn’t quite go the way the Canadians would have liked. The world number ones came away with the victory, 20-22, 18-21, sending Team Canada’s opening ceremony flag bearers home with the silver medal.
The first-year partners are taking some positives away from the experience, especially the chance to participate in a multi-sport games together and all that brings with it.
“Every day we learn a lot, and these are my favourite type of games — high pressure finals against a strong team. So, there’s always the win there,” Wilkerson said post-match. “Nobody wants to lose, but when you do lose, this is the only way to do it, which is putting yourself out there and trying your hardest and going for it.”
Humana-Paredes, who has Chilean roots, felt the courtside love from the home crowd. For her, the Pan Am Games have been a special opportunity to play in the country her parents were born in.
“There was an extra level gratitude and fulfillment in a way that you want to do two countries proud, and you want to represent both of them really well…it’s extra special and you feel supported doubly,” she said when asked about the experience.
Track Cycling: Golden men’s team pursuit quintet
Things looked promising for Canada in the men’s team pursuit yesterday when Carson Mattern, Chris Ernst, Michael Foley and Sean Richardson set a new Pan American Games record of 3:55.981 in the qualifying round. With Campbell Parrish switching in for Ernst, they then overtook Argentina in the first round to advance into today’s gold medal race.
In that head-to-head showdown with Colombia, Mattern, Foley, Richardson and Parrish bested the day-old record with a time of 3:53.593 to take the gold medal. They were close to 10 seconds faster than the Colombians over the 4000 metres on the velodrome.
“It’s a pretty good feeling when you can tell the whole team is having a good day — you could just tell the vibes were switched on and everyone was locked in. Rolling up to the track, everyone was hyped up and ready to go and we just went to the boards and did our job,” Mattern said.
Surfing: Dempfle-Olin, Spencer headed to medal heats
Sanoa Dempfle-Olin is guaranteed a medal in the women’s shortboard event, after winning her way through four rounds of repechage over the last two days. Her last victory came despite tricky wave conditions in her final heat of the day.
“The conditions deteriorated so quickly, it was a kind of wave I’d never surfed before,” Dempfle-Olin said after defeating Chile’s Estela Lopez in her last head-to-head matchup. “I just tried to get my two scores on the board and surf the wave to whatever score I could get. Luckily it worked out for me in the end.”
The 18-year-old from Tofino, British Columbia will surf in the bronze medal heat on Monday against Leilani McGonagle of Costa Rica. The winner of that heat will advance to the gold medal heat, while the loser will head home with the bronze.
The highest ranked athlete in the shortboard event when it finishes on Monday will qualify directly for Paris 2024. Brazilian surfer Tatiana Weston Webb, who has secured her spot in the gold medal heat, is already qualified for Paris, so it will come down to the battle between Dempfle-Olin and McGonagle for the Olympic spot.
Surfing only made its debut at the Pan Am Games four years ago at Lima 2019. Canada’s lone medal came from Dempfle-Olin’s older sister Mathea in the women’s longboard event. Dempfle-Olin is taking this week as an opportunity to work on her heat surfing and grow as a competitor.
“The Pan Am Games are a huge event and it’s a great opportunity to be here and have all the other teams and all the other sports. So, I’m just learning as much as I can and just living in the moment because it’s all very exciting,” she said.
Finn Spencer is also guaranteed a medal, advancing to Monday’s bronze heat in men’s SUP Surf after beating Gabriel Salazar of Chile in his third repechage round.
Tennis: Marino on to singles semis
Rebecca Marino won her quarterfinal match against Yuliana Lizarazo of Colombia with a score of 5-7, 6-4, 4-6. She will compete in the women’s singles semifinals tomorrow in the hopes of advancing to Sunday’s final.
“Oh my gosh that was so up and down,” Marino said after the match. “A lot of emotions. I felt like I was struggling to find my game. I was down 3-5 in the first set, but managed to win it. She took the second set. I was down a break in the third set and I finally felt like I found my game […]. For me, having Canada written on my back is extra motivation.”
Field Hockey: 200 caps and a goal for the captain
Team Canada defeated Team USA 2-1 in men’s field hockey to improve to 2-0 in the tournament. Captain Gordon Johnston scored the game-winning goal in his 200th international game for Canada.
“It’s been a long career and there’s been some special moments along the way, but this one’s up there with them,” Johnston said after the game.
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