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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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U.S. men’s volleyball team qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

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The U.S. men’s volleyball team is going to a 10th straight Olympics, beating the host Netherlands 25-18, 25-20, 17-25, 25-21 on Sunday to win its qualification tournament.

The Americans, led by coach John Speraw, are an Olympic medal contender. They took bronze at the Rio Games and the lone world championship tournament in this Olympic cycle in 2018, moving to No. 2 in the world rankings behind Brazil.

The Tokyo roster will be the first without ties to the 2008 Olympic champion team that was guided by Hugh McCutcheon. The last links — Reid Priddy and David Lee — moved to beach volleyball after Rio.

The most experienced player on the current roster is opposite Matt Anderson, a two-time Olympian and five-time U.S. Player of the Year. Micah Christenson was named best setter of the 2018 World Championship. Outside hitter Aaron Russell starred against the Dutch on Sunday.

At worlds, the U.S. blew a two sets-to-one semifinal lead over Italy but overcame a 2-0 deficit to down Russia for bronze

VIDEO: Brazil volleyball star faints during courtside interview

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Russia volleyball coach’s eye gesture draws criticism

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A Russia women’s volleyball assistant coach is being looked at by the sport’s international governing body after a photo surfaced of him appearing to use his fingers to make his eyes look more Japanese, moments after the team qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

Sergio Busato, an Italian-born assistant coach for Russia’s national team, made the gesture after his team beat South Korea to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games, according to Russian media.

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) confirmed Thursday that it received a complaint, reportedly from South Korea’s federation, and that it is investigating the matter.

“The FIVB is aware of this matter and notes that the Russian Volleyball Federation immediately took steps to get the picture taken down by various sites as the image does not reflect their views or values,” the FIVB said in a statement. “It is important to stress that the FIVB does not approve of any such culturally insensitive gestures, even if there was no intention to offend,” it said in a statement.

Busato said he was surprised that the gesture was received as offensive, according to RIA Novosti, noting that when Russia qualified for the Rio Olympics, he did a samba dance in celebration.

In 2008, Spanish men’s basketball players apologized after a photo of the team making the same gesture was published for the Beijing Olympics. In 2011, Brazilian swimmer Cesar Cielo made the gesture at the world championships in Shanghai.

VIDEO: Brazil volleyball star faints during courtside interview

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