Pan American Games 2011
The 2011 16th Pan American Games in Guadalajara was called the most wonderful games by president of the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO), Mario Vazquez Raña, commenting on the pleasant memory of all the victories conquered by the promising young sportsmen who now face the challenge of the London Olympics.
Some 6,000 athletes from 42 nations, all PASO members, took part in the Americas’ Fiesta, setting 101 new records in an environment chock full of the exciting combination of joy and sadness, hopes and dreams.
The city of Guadalajara, capital of Mexican Jalisco State, was the event’s proud host and was full of people chanting Mexico! Mexico! Mexico! in each stadium. Mexican athletes had their best performance in Pan-American sports history, achieving 42 gold medals, nearly twice as many as in the 1995 Mar del Plata Games.
Thus Mexicans rose from fifth place in the last Pan American Games (Rio 2007), to fourth place.
The largest country, the U.S.A., again climbed to the top of the podium with 92 gold, 79 silver and 65 bronze medals to confirm itself at the pinnacle of sports in the region despite not competing with its best competitors.
CUBA, THE BEST OF LATIN AMERICA
Cuba once again led Latin American nations with its outstanding second place (58-35-43), wiping out some questions about the present power of its sports.
Questions about Cuba’s real possibilities to stay ahead of Latin America in these competitions were motivated by the financial difficulties affecting the athletes preparing for the Games, the development experienced by Brazil, stimulated by the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, Mexico’s presence with a strong delegation and the significant number of Cuban coaches and technicians working in foreign countries.
What Guadalajara-2011 meant for the Cuban sports movement was an encouraging gush of fresh air for the London Olympic meeting.
The Caribbean island triumphed with what it has, sports responding to a social project in which the athletes turn hardship into gold, silver and bronze medals.
CANADA, RED FLAG
Among the most striking movements of the games occurred on the final medal board of nations with the fall of Canada from fourth to fifth place due to the loss of nine titles in relation to the Rio Games four years ago (39 gold, 44 silver, 55 bronze medals).
In the past eight years Canada’s spot at the Pan Am Games has traveled in reverse: third place in the 2003 Santo Domingo games, fourth in 2007 Rio and fifth in 2011 Guadalajara.
With the end of the Americas’ Fiesta, Guadalajara handed the stick to Toronto which in 2015 will organize the games’ 17th edition. At home, Canadians might recover lost ground and perhaps, as in Winnipeg-1967 and 1999, repeat a demonstration of real athletic power.