Day 12 at Santiago 2023: Equestrian jumping team earns silver & Olympic qualification
Bronze was the theme of Day 12 for Team Canada athletes at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games. There were nine of them, in fact, from table tennis, squash, wrestling, fencing, and athletics. There was also a pretty important silver in equestrian jumping as Team Canada saw its medal count rise to 116.
Here are some of the top stories of the day:
Equestrian: Jumping team secures Olympic qualification
Team Canada’s equestrians went three-for-three in earning Paris 2024 qualification at the Pan Am Games. Today, the jumping team joining the eventing and dressage teams in punching their ticket for the next Olympic Games by winning the silver medal.
Riders and their horses had to jump over a series of 13 obstacles, each of which had a theme of significance to Chile — the water jump featured penguins; another jump featured the national flower of Chile, the lapageria rosea; another showcased the Santiago 2023 mascot, Fiu.
Canadian riders Beth Underhill (riding Nikka Vd Bisschop), Mario Deslauriers (riding Emerson), Tiffany Foster (riding Figor) and Amy Millar (riding Truman) got it done with a total score of 17.62. Foster posted two clean rounds on Wednesday, while Millar and Underhill also went clean in the afternoon, allowing the team to drop Deslauriers’ four faults for knocking down a single rail. Those performances moved the team up from third place after the day’s first session.
This was a very experienced team. Underhill, who made her Olympic debut at Barcelona 1992, is the oldest athlete on Team Canada in Santiago at the age of 61. Deslauriers competed at Tokyo 2020, making his return to the Olympics for the first time since he competed at Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988. Foster is a two-time Olympian who competed at London 2012 and Rio 2016. Millar was one of her teammates in Rio.
“I think we all felt the same pressure, honestly. It was right there from the get-go. Tiffany [Foster] needed to go out and show us the way and she did admirably both rounds. And everyone’s score counted, and everyone contributed,” Underhill said.
Team Canada was joined on the podium by Team USA with a score of 12.37 and Team Brazil with a score of 20.32. Since Brazil is already qualified for Paris 2024, the third qualification spot went to the fourth place Mexican team.
Fencing: Triple bronze day for fencers
At only 15-years-old, Xiao is the youngest member of Canada’s fencing continent in Santiago. Her last bout in the women’s individual épée against Peru’s Maria Doig Calderon was pretty even through the first two periods, but she eventually fell 15-10. Xiao still said her Pan Am Games experience has been positive thanks to the support from her teammates.
“My teammates are really caring. They really take care of me and I feel right at home,” Xiao said. “I think I fenced pretty well and I ended with a result that I’m pretty happy with.”
Arfa and Gordon shared the third step of the podium in the men’s individual sabre. In his second Pan Am Games appearance, Arfa won his first individual medal after losing to Eliecer Romero Parra of Venezuela 12-15 in one semifinal. In the other, Gordon lost 8-15 to American Andrew Doddo to end up with bronze for the second straight Pan Am Games.
“Overall, there’s positives and negatives. Tactically, I know what I have to work on for the next couple of weeks,” Gordon said. “It’s good to get back into that mental competitive mood, so I would say that’s the positive.” There are still team events to come for all of Canada’s fenders in Santiago.
Gordon’s sister, 19-year-old Tamar, is also competing in Santiago. And her older brother says she’s one to look out for.
“I can handle the stress when I’m competing, but when I have to be on the sidelines and coach her it gets to me a little bit,” Gordon said with a chuckle. “She’s extremely talented — more talented than me, and she’s just beginning her international competitive career.”
Table Tennis: Double bronzes for Zhang and Wang
Today, Zhang had a tough back-and-forth battle with Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico, but she came out of the semifinal on the wrong side of a 4-3 score (13-11, 5-11, 7-11, 11-7, 9-11, 13-11, 6-11). Zhang said that when she saw the draw, she knew it would be a tough fight for her to even get into the medals.
Wang went down 3-0 against Andy Pereira Diaz of Cuba, and though he fought back to win a set, he ended up dropping the match 4-1 (8-11, 5-11, 9-11, 11-7, 10-12).
“It’s my third Pan Am Games bronze medal in singles,” said Wang, who also won bronze at Toronto 2015 and Lima 2019. “I was looking forward to breaking that routine.”
The two aren’t done playing in Santiago. Thursday marks the start of the women’s and men’s team tournaments.
Squash: Naughton takes another singles bronze
Hollie Naughton will take home a bronze medal in women’s singles after a loss to American Olivia Fiechter in the semifinals. Naughton took the first set 11-8, but then Fiechter took three straight for the victory, 5-11, 5-11, 9-11.
This is the second Pan Am Games bronze medal in a row for Naughton, who also took bronze at Lima 2019. Naughton went in as the third seed while Fiechter was the second seed.
“It’s great to walk away with another medal. Would I have liked it to be a different colour? Most certainly,” Naughton said post-game. “Guess I’ll have to wait another four years to try and capture the gold.” Naughton still has doubles and team events to play in Santiago.
Athletics: Hammer throw bronze for Butler
Kaila Butler delivered Team Canada’s first medal in the field events in Santiago. Butler threw a distance of 65.10 metres to take the bronze in the women’s hammer throw.
“It’s overwhelming. This is my first international medal — ever. So, it’s a really big deal to me,” Butler said through happy tears. “I’ve been working really hard for this for the last year and a half and to come here and get off to a bit of a rough start, and overcome the weather and emotions and just keep going was really special. I’m really proud of myself.”
Callum Robinson advanced to Thursday’s final in the men’s 200m after placing second in his semifinal heat with a time of 21.16 seconds.
“I knew that the conditions weren’t amazing because of the cold and the rain…but as a Canadian we all have to run in that a lot of the time,” Robinson said post-race.
Wrestling: Bronzes for Randhawa and Thomson
It was a successful first day on the mat for Team Canada wrestlers.
Nishan Randhawa snagged a bronze medal in the men’s 97kg freestyle after besting Costa Rican Maxwell Lacey Garita. Randhawa dominated in the first period and held on against a surging Lacey Garita in the second, with a final score of 7-6.
Adam Thomson also secured a bronze in the 74kg freestyle with his win over Luis Barrios of Honduras. This time it was the opposite story, though, with a strong first period by Barrios, followed by a Thomson comeback in the second for a final score of 6-5.
“I know that my pace and my cardio are my strengths,” said Thomson of being down early in the match. “Sometimes if something isn’t working in the first period, you have to switch it up. It doesn’t always have to be pretty, sometimes it’s just gritty.”
Canoe/Kayak Sprint: Canadians advance directly to finals
Team Canada crushed it during the first day of competition, with all three boats in action winning their heats and advancing directly to A finals on Friday.
Michelle Russell was first in her women’s K-1 500m heat, Ian Gaudet and Simon McTavish won their heat in the men’s K-2 500m, and keeping the streak alive, Sophia Jensen won her heat in the women’s C-1 200m.
Field Hockey: Team Canada men will play for bronze
It was a fight to the bitter end in the pouring rain for the Canadian men’s field hockey team in their semifinal game against the home nation of Chile.
Canada struck first with a goal by captain Gordon Johnston in the second quarter. Chile didn’t have a response until midway through the fourth quarter, when they tied it up. The game advanced to a shootout, with Canada losing 3-2. Team Canada’s shootout goals were scored by Floris van Son and Keegan Pereira.
Canada will play in the bronze medal match on Friday against the United States.
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