Samantha Achterberg

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U.S. wraps Pan Am Games with 293 medals, 18 Olympic quota spots

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The Pan American Games, bringing together athletes from North America, South America and the Caribbean, are an interesting grab bag of events: Olympic sports bringing in the top-ranked athletes in the hemisphere, Olympic sports that are much lower on the priority list for world-class competitors, and non-Olympic sports such as racquetball, water skiing and basque pelota.

The program fluctuates a bit, and this year’s competition in Lima, Peru, featured a staggering 419 events, up from the 364 events contested in Toronto four years ago and far more than the 339 events on the Tokyo 2020 schedule.

One thing that doesn’t change in the Pan Am Games is the U.S. dominance in the medal count. The final tally this year: 120 gold medals, 88 silver and 85 bronze. The next-best country, Brazil, earned 55 gold medals, 45 silver and 71 bronze for a total of 171, lagging far behind the U.S. total of 293. Canada (152 total) and Mexico (136) took the next two spots on the medal table.

For some sports, the competition was vitally important. Modern pentathletes Samantha Achterberg and Amro Elgeziry earned spots on the 2020 Olympic team with their performances. Elgeziry took a silver medal in the 2014 world championships while competing for Egypt, then moved to the United States after marrying U.S. pentathlete Isabella Isaksen. Elgeziry and Isaksen also combined for gold in the mixed relay.

READ: Elgeziry, three-time Egyptian Olympian, qualifies for 2020 U.S. team

Some events offered Olympic quota spots, ensuring a place for at least one U.S. athlete in the event in 2020. U.S. shooters nailed down seven spots. Other U.S. athletes earned spots in archery, equestrian, sailing, shooting and water polo.

In other sports, with less at stake, the U.S. didn’t send its top athletes. One exception: Swimmer Nathan Adrian followed up his world championship relay medals with six medals in Lima, matching the total of fellow world championship medalist Margo Geer.

Most top gymnasts were competing in the U.S. Championships, and yet the U.S. women took the team gold medal and Riley McCusker finished with four medals.

The U.S. sent substantially weakened teams in several sports and posted several results that would be shockers in the Olympics. The men’s and women’s volleyball teams failed to medal. In men’s basketball, a U.S. team composed entirely of current and recent Big East players fell to Argentina by a stunning score of 114-75 in the semifinals, then rebounded to take bronze. The U.S. women, virtually unbeatable with WNBA players in the World Cup and Olympics, lost to Brazil in the final.

On the other hand, the U.S. swept the gold medals in the new Olympic sport of 3×3 basketball and took medals in several sports in which teams would rarely be competitive in the Olympics such as artistic swimming (formerly known as synchronized swimming) and men’s field hockey. The women’s handball team narrowly missed the podium, losing 24-23 to Cuba in the bronze medal game.

U.S. bowlers Jakob Butturff and Nick Pate took the doubles bowling gold in unusual circumstances after Puerto Rico’s Jean Perez Faure tested positive for a masking agent. Butturff has won seven PBA events.

The Parapan American Games, for athletes with disabilities, start Aug. 23.

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Amro Elgeziry, three-time Egyptian Olympian, qualifies for 2020 U.S. Olympic team

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Amro Elgeziry went to the last three Olympics for Egypt. Next year, he will compete for the U.S. Olympic team for the first time.

Elgeziry, a modern pentathlete, qualified for the Tokyo Games by placing fifth at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, on Sunday, according to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Another modern pentathlete, Samantha Achterberg, qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic team by taking silver in the women’s event Saturday.

Open-water swimmers Haley AndersonAshley Twichell and Jordan Wilimovsky previously qualified for the Olympic team.

Elgeziry, 32, was born in Cairo. He moved to Colorado Springs, site of a U.S. Olympic training center, in 2014 (the year he earned a world silver medal) and married U.S. Olympic pentathlete Isabella Isaksen. Isaksen finished 12th at Pan Ams, missing the chance to qualify for Tokyo, but will get more chances in the next year.

Elgeziry retired from the Egyptian team after Rio to settle into a normal American life with Isaksen, according to USA Modern Pentathlon. But he felt the urge to return, joined the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) and became an American citizen.

Emily deRiel was the last American to earn an Olympic pentathlon medal, silver in 2000. The sport debuted at the 1912 Stockholm Games.

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