Getty Images

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

1 Comment

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Women’s figure skating gold may be an incredible showdown

Getty Images
Leave a comment

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — If you think Yevgenia Medvedeva will cruise to the Olympic gold medal in figure skating, think again.

Medvedeva’s 15-year-old training partner, Alina Zagitova, proved she can challenge for the gold. Zagitova won the team event free skate by 20 points on Monday, scoring only 2.38 points short of Medvedeva’s record.

That should set up a tantalizing all-Russian contest for the women’s gold on Feb. 21 and 23. Still, Zagitova swears there’s no rivalry with Medvedeva, who broke her own record in the team short on Sunday.

“Zhenya congratulated me, and I congratulated her yesterday,” Zagitova said, referring to Medvedeva by her Russian nickname. “We’ve really bonded during these competitions.”

Read the rest of the story and watch video by clicking here

U.S. field hockey stars Lauren Crandall, Rachel Dawson retire

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lauren Crandall and Rachel Dawson, who combined to play 577 times for the U.S. field hockey team since 2005, announced retirements Thursday.

Crandall and Dawson, both 31 years old, made their national-team debuts in 2005 and played in the last three Olympics. Crandall, Dawson and Katelyn Falgowski are the only Americans to play in three Olympic field hockey tournaments.

“Lauren and Rachel have been international powerhouses for an extended period,” U.S. coach Craig Parnham said in a press release.

Crandall and Dawson spearheaded a U.S. women’s field hockey program that made three straight Olympics after failing to qualify the previous three times (not counting its automatic spot at Atlanta 1996). The U.S. men’s team hasn’t qualified for an Olympics since 1956.

The U.S. women finished eighth at Beijing 2008, then last of 12 teams at London 2012. It rebounded to make the Rio Olympic quarterfinals, taking fifth overall with Crandall as captain for a second straight Olympics.

Crandall and Dawson were also part of Pan American Games gold-medal teams in 2011 and 2015.

Crandall was one of five nominees for the 2014 FIH Player of the Year.

VIDEO: Top field hockey moments from Rio