Thomas Skrlj/COC
Thomas Skrlj/COC

Day 16 at Santiago 2023: Team Canada closes Pan Am Games with five medals for total of 164

Team Canada finished the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on Sunday, earning five medals in a shortened final day of competition ahead of the Closing Ceremony.

After 16 days of sport, Canadian athletes earned 164 medals, including 46 gold, 55 silver, and 63 bronze, which is Team Canada’s second best total ever at a Pan Am Games it hasn’t hosted.

With final-day medals in golf, bowling, squash, table tennis and karate, Team Canada surpassed their 162 medal total at Indianapolis 1987, putting the success in Santiago only behind the 178 medals won at Mar del Plata 1995.

Here’s a look at the top stories of Day 16:

Golf: Alena Sharp wins her first Pan Ams medal

Canada’s prowess on the greens made its way down to the Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago as Alena Sharp shot her way to women’s golf bronze with a final round of 71.

Three birdies and a 30-foot putt to save par on the 15th hole highlighted her final round.

  • A female Team Canada golfer celebrates
  • A female Team Canada athlete wears a bronze medal and holds a mascot stuffed animal, wearing Team Canada attire
  • A female golfer for Team Canada wears all white and is in a backswing after making a golf shot
  • A female golfer for Team Canada wears all white and attempts to hit a ball.
  • A female golfer for Team Canada wears all white and takes a put.

A two-time Olympian from Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, Sharp had yet to compete at a Pan Am Games until this year. She put herself in podium contention on the first day of competition.

In the opening round, the 42-year-old shot her event-best 67, for five under par, before following it up with a second round of 73 and a penultimate round of 71. Her total put her seven-under-par, only trailing Paraguay’s Sofia Garcia (-14) and Columbia’s Maria Uribe (-10).

“I’m kind of shocked a little bit; I thought I would be in a playoff. I had a lot of good luck this week, and I’m floored and to the moon to take home a medal for Canada,” Sharp said. “I’ve played in two Olympics, and this, and it’s nice to walk away with a medal.”

The Hamilton, Ontario native’s medal marks Canada’s second-ever golf medal at a Pan Am Games. The team of Austin Connelly, Mary Parsons, Joey Savoie, and Brigitte Thibeault won mixed team bronze at Lima 2019. Etienne Papineau finished the men’s tournament in Santiago just off the podium in a tie for fourth.

Bowling: Mitch Hupé grabs a second silver

Winning his second medal of Santiago 2023, Mitch Hupé captured silver in men’s singles bowling, adding to a haul that already saw him claim doubles silver with François Lavoie.

In the final, Hupé won the opening game but eventually fell to AJ Johnson of the United States, 795-727. In the second of three games in the gold medal match, the American bowled a perfect game of 300.

  • Mitch Hupé Team Canada bowls at the Pan Am Games
  • Mitch Hupé of Team Canada holds his silver medal wearing a red jacket
  • Mitch Hupé Team Canada bowls at the Pan Am Games

“It’s bittersweet to lead the event up until the end, and having it come down to basically one game is unfortunate,” Hupé said. “I’m still proud of the performance, and I’m happy to bring back two silver medals for Canada. It was my first Pan Am Games experience, and I’d say it was a successful one, despite the ending.”

The Winnipeg, Manitoba native had topped the first day of the singles competition, finishing with 1957 points, ahead of Lavoie, who was third with 1743 points. In the second ranking round, Hupé maintained his first place, rising to 3650 points, qualifying him for the semifinal round, which he won 673-665 over Puerto Rico’s Christian Azcona.

Squash: Silver in women’s team event

Canada battled for a silver medal in a North American clash in the women’s team squash gold medal matchup, losing 2-0 to the United States.

Nicole Bunyan played the first match for the Canadians, taking on singles gold medallist Olivia Fiechter. While she put forth a close game in the first and third, losing both 11-7, a second-game loss of 11-3 proved critical as Fiechter took the opening win.

Canada’s number one, Hollie Naughton, looked to keep Canada’s golden hopes alive, but fell in straight games to Amanda Sobhy, losing each 11-8 in a match that lasted 31 minutes. With the match decided, Nikole Todd did not get to battle Olivia Eve Blatchford in the final matchup, awarding Canada the silver medal.

Naughton captured a bronze medal on Day 12 in the women’s singles competition.

“It was a hard-fought match; there were definitely moments where I could have pushed on and hopefully closed out a couple of games,” Naughton said post-match. “Against this calibre of players, you’ve got to be switched on all the way through, and I had too many lapses in concentration.”

With the podium spot, the group looks onto the future as a team and as individuals, with eyes on the LA 2028 Olympic Games, where squash will be included in the Olympic program for the first time.

“It’s huge for our sport; it’s hopefully going to grow our game, keep people in the sport longer and being an Olympian has a special ring to it,” Todd said. “It’s more than saying you’re a professional athlete when you’re an Olympian; it means something more to some people, and I think that’s going to be massive.”

Table Tennis: Team Canada settle for men’s silver

Canada’s perfect run in men’s team table tennis competition came to an end in the gold medal game, as the group of Siméon Martin, Eugene Wang, and Edward Ly fell to Brazil in the final match, claiming the silver medal in the event.

Opening with a doubles match, Brazil’s Vitor Ishay and Eric Kenji Jouti defeated Martin and Wang in three straight games, but the Canadian pair put up a strong effort, posting nine points in the opening game before losing 11-9, 11-5, 11-6.

In the second match, between Hugo Calderano and Ly, the Brazilian prevailed 3-1, despite Ly winning the first game 12-10 in a tiebreaker. Wang grabbed Canada’s lone victory in the final, as he defeated Jouti in a fierce three-set battle, winning 11-9, 11-8, 11-10.

However, the fourth match of the day clinched the gold medal for Brazil, as Martin fell in straight games, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7.

“To make it to the final for us, we had to beat some very good teams, and Brazil played great. They’ve been playing great in Pan Am events for many years, and we’re closer than we used to be, but they still had the upper hand this time,” said Canada’s head coach, Max Surprenaut. “I’m so proud of our group to reach the final in the fashion we did.”

Canada was perfect through group play, defeating Puerto Rico, Ecuador, and the Independent Athletes Team before dispatching the United States in the semifinal. In September, Wang, Ly and Martin qualified a Canadian men’s table tennis team for Paris 2024 with their silver medal at the ITTF Pan American Championships.

Karate: Bratic battles to bronze

Melissa Bratic captured a bronze medal in the women’s -68kg event, continuing a run of podium finishes on the Pan American stage. She won bronze medals at the PKF Pan American Championships in the same category in 2018, 2019, 2022 and 2023.

  • A Team Canada athlete competes in karate.
  • A Team Canada athlete stands on the podium with a silver medal.

The Mississauga, Ontario native opened her competition by advancing through Pool B, edging Venezuela’s Marianth Buate Cuervo, Bolivia’s Nazira Aponte, Brazi’s Barbara Hellen Rodrigues, and Mexico’s Pamela Campos Descideiro. However, she fell 4-0 to Columbia’s Wendy Mosquera Riascos in the semis to claim the bronze medal.

“Some of the matches I felt like I was really on, and other matches I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be,” she said. “So it’s unfortunate with some results, but I’m happy nonetheless with the results overall.”

Adiós y gracias Santiago

There was just one last thing to take place — the Closing Ceremony. Canoer Katie Vincent and B-Boy Phil Wizard proudly represented their Team Canada teammates in serving as flag bearers in the final event of the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games.

Brandie Wilkerson and Melissa Humana-Paredes carry the Canadian flag in front of their teammates

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