Traditionally regarded as a regional precursor to the Olympics, the 19th Pan Am Games concluded on November 5, 2023. The competition, held in Santiago, Chile, featured athletes from North America, South America and Central America competing in 425 events in 39 sports, including all 28 “core” ones to be included in Paris 2024. New sports this year included breaking, skateboarding, synchronized trampoline, mixed eights rowing, roller sports, racquetball, squash, and sport climbing. E-sports did demonstrations.
The United States is traditionally the dominant team, and this year was no different, with 650 athletes competing. Team USA’s 2019 total was 293 medals (122 gold, 87 silver, and 84 bronze). This year, they more or less maintained those totals with 286 medals (124, 74, 83). Brazil came in second with 205 medals (66, 73, 66) and Mexico was third with 142 (52, 38, 52). Canada was fourth but actually won more medals than Mexico (164) but fewer golds (46, 55, 63).
Seven athletes who shined
Amid the thousands who competed, we highlight a short list of athletes who stood out in Santiago:
- Gaby Agundez: This Mexican won a bronze in synchronized diving in Tokyo but took both golds in Santiago.
- Fay DeFazio Ebert: The Canadian won the women’s skateboard park competition at age 13.
- Felix Dolci: He is the first Canadian to win the gymnastics all-around since 1963 and won five medals overall.
- Piper Kelly: The 24-year-old from Team USA set a personal best in the women’s speed climbing competition while beating the world’s silver medalist.
- Bill May: May last competed in the 2015 Worlds, but the 44-year-old has come back and helped Team USA’s artistic swimming squad to a silver, which qualified them for Paris.
- Osmar Olvera: Another star on Mexico’s powerful diving team, 19-year-old Olvera won three golds.
- Azura Stevens: A former WNBA champion, she led Team USA’s 3×3 women’s basketball team to gold, contributing nearly half the points in the team’s dominant gold medal round win.
There is no doubt that there will be many unheralded or other breakout athletes who will shine in Paris. We wish everyone the best of luck.