Updates from Jim Hiser, reporting from Guadalajara, Mexico at the Pan American Games
Pan American Games Update – Final – 10/26/2011
Even contemplating the factors affecting peak performance in the U.S., we should not lose perspective of the great accomplishments of the athletes who represented the U.S. at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara. Many times our culture judges success only by gold medals and not by effort. The sadness and disappointment I witnessed after defeats were real, but our athletes felt this was one of, if not the best, racquetball experience of their lives. The event was "great" in every respect, and everyone who participated will cherish lifelong memories. From the pride and the joy they felt as they entered a stadium of 60,000 cheering fans to the late-night conversations with other athletes from many nations, each of our athletes had the experience of a lifetime.
Also, for many of the athletes this was the first time they REALLY experienced what it was like to represent their country in a true international setting, and it meant everything to them. Each athlete left this event with a newfound pride in their country, pride that I believe will be there for the rest of their lives.
Although it is great to travel and enjoy other cultures, there is no place like the “good old US of A.” Yes we have many challenges ahead if we want to compete in the future, but there is no other place I, or our athletes, would rather live and represent.
Thanks to everyone for your support, and thanks to our athletes for their dedication, effort and results!
Report from Jim Hiser on 10/23/11 at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara:
Everyone did well in their first team matches. The team competition differs from the individual draws in that each team’s players play head to head against the other team’s players. So, for instance, our #1 plays their #1, our #2 plays their #2, and our doubles team plays theirs. You only have to win two out of three matches to move on. This is why coaches manipulate their line-ups and try to determine their best chances to win.
The women had to play the doubles and #2 matches first. Aimee and Rhonda played the Dominican Republic and easily won both these matches, which meant that Rhonda did not have to play her singles match. Today will be a more difficult match-up against Bolivia. Doubles plays first, so Rhonda will have to play back-to-back in her singles match. It will be a challenge for the women as the Bolivians are much improved.
The men had a tough first-round match against the Bolivians. The first match was doubles. Shane played extremely well, and Chris played another very steady match. Both games were close with the USA winning. The Bolivians are adaptive at playing at altitude, and they pinch extremely well. The US won by constantly putting pressure on the Bolivian team with their power.
The second match was #2 singles with Chris playing against the young world junior champ Keller. This kid is good and will one day be on the podium receiving a gold medal. Chris had to play well, and both games were close. Chris’s overall power and reach was just too much for the young Bolivian, but you can be sure he will be back. Rocky did not have to play and enjoyed a well-deserved day off. Today they play Ecuador(who beat Canada), but the match should be easier than their match against Bolivia since Ecuador is less experienced.
One of the big differences here is that the athletes are able to receive top-notch treatment after and between matches, and believe me, it makes a difference. Yesterday the guys received "grastom" treatment where they put a needle into your muscle and try to "release" it. Apparently the treatment is somewhat uncomfortable, but the results are remarkable. Both Shane and Rocky received the treatment yesterday.
Canada lost first round in both the men's and women's team events. This will be the first time that the Canadian team will receive NO medals in the team competition and only two medals in the individual competition: their worst results ever. This does not bode well for their prospects for the next Pan Ams, to be held in Toronto, since their team has no young talent.
Coach “drops in”-- Mike Guidry, during a break in the action, went into the athletes’ lounge and sat down on what he thought was a stool. Unfortunately it was a glass table, and down he went. With glass particles in his back and derriere, and his feet sticking straight up in the air, and a very stunned look on his face, Mike wondered what had happened. Unhurt but surprised, Mike had to contend with jokes from the team.
Guadalajara, known as the Beverly Hills of Mexico, seems to be one of safest places in Mexico. It is cosmopolitan with many great restaurants, some magnificent homes and beautiful little shopping villages. Apparently the cartels don’t bother the people here!
Two updates from Jim Hiser and the USOC, 10/21-22/2011 at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico:
More about yesterday…
Women's doubles played extremely well and beat Ecuador. Rhonda played her best doubles match of the week while Aimee was her steady self, hitting great wallpaper serves.
Men's doubles played very strong the first game and beat Mexico. There were few errors and some great shots by both Shane and Chris. In the second game, things started to fall apart. Numerous unforced errors and skips resulted in a 15-1 loss that continued over to the tiebreaker. The USA was never in either game two or three; they just could not eliminate the skips. USA gets the bronze medal.
Today, Rocky plays the #2 Mexican Gilberto Mejia. Mejia has played solidly but went to a tiebreaker against Vincent Gagnon of Canada. Odds are with Rocky.
Rhonda plays Paola. Paola handled Rhonda in three straight at the US Open. Cheryl played Paola tough yesterday and may have exposed some weaknesses. Odds: even.
In women’s doubles, the result should come down to who plays best on the right side -- Samantha or Rhonda. Odds: even.
Most interesting story: in the tiebreaker of the final match of the men’s doubles round robin between Venezuela and Mexico, Cesar Castro from Venezuela swung hard at a ball and separated his right bicep and of course had to forfeit. Cesar was flown back to Venezuela yesterday and was scheduled for surgery today. The rules allow replacing an injured player (in the second half of the draw) with another player as long as that player played in the first half. With the US and Mexico (the two favorites) in the top bracket, that put Venezuela in the bottom bracket. After an exciting come-from-behind win over Canada in the semis 11-10, Venezuela is now in the gold medal finals against Mexico.
Unfortunate-- the event must be shortened for future events. Racquetball is the longest event at the Games (nine days) and physiology-wise it is not good for the athletes to play that many days in a row; as injuries and aches begin to accumulate the quality of play starts to suffer. Most if not all other events here play straight draws – if you lose, you’re out. Racquetball needs to reevaluate this process.
For this Games it was important for racquetball to include both the individual and team competition to set a precedent for future Games, but the round robins to qualify for the individual part must be eliminated.
Rhonda played very well but lost in the tiebreaker 11-9. Rhonda emerged quickly in the first game with a 9-2 lead but Paola fought back and tied the game at 11-11. Rhonda then hit four great serves and ended the game 15-11. The second game was all Paola as her drive serve started to get into a groove and she won 15-6. Paola looked like she was going to coast to an easy win in the tiebreaker as she went out to a 8-4 lead with Rhonda struggling, but suddenly Rhonda hit a few good serves and a couple of skips by Paola and Rhonda was ahead 9-8. Rhonda actually had three serves at 9 but all three allowed Paola an offensive return with no rallies. Paola went on to win 11-9. Rhonda earned Silver at the Pan Am Games!
Rocky crushed Gilberto Mejia of Mexico 15-1 in the first game. Rocky came out offensive, and Gilberto struggled with Rocky's power.
In the second game, Gilberto used a half lob backhand serve that gave Rocky a lot of trouble. Gilberto actually had the lead much of the game until Rocky tied it at 10-10. From there on, Rocky fought every point until Gilberto finally made a few mistakes and Rocky won 15-11. Rocky wins Pan Am Gold!
There must have been 50 photographers and press here at the Games. It's astonishing how different everything here is centered around the sport, and it’s easy to see why the Latin American countries are developing so fast. They receive recognition for their accomplishments throughout their entire countries. The first lady of Mexico was here to watch Paola's match, and after she won the president actually called Paola on the phone. For the U.S., it was difficult for us to even get any U.S. representatives to watch our matches, and we were in three finals. The Pan AMs are just not considered a prime event in the U.S. as are the Olympics.
When Alvaro Beltran (MEX) lost yesterday, he still received a full page in the national paper (like our USA Today). Wouldn’t it be great to see racquetball receive full-page coverage in the U.S.?
Late breaking development – Rhonda and Aimee lost in the tiebreaker against Longoria/Salas of Mexico. Silver medal at the Pan Ams! That makes U.S. count 1 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze. Congratulations to Team USA, now on to the Team competition!
Jim Hiser reports on yesterday’s experience
The U.S. lost two of our three matches today. Rocky defeated Gilberto Mejia in two straight in the men's singles final. He came out on fire and won the first game 15-1. In the second game, Rocky was behind most of the game but then managed to tie it at 12-12 and ran off three straight points for the victory.
Rhonda lost to Paola Longoria in a 9-11 tiebreaker, capturing the silver medal for the U.S. and in women’s doubles, Rhonda and Aimee played well in the first game but lost 12-15. In the second they steamed out to an early lead 10-2 and ended up winning 15-6. In the tiebreaker, they went out to an early 4-0 lead and then struggled to return a lob serve up the middle. They never recovered and lost 11-5, another silver for the U.S. as the individual competition came to a close. Final individual count: one gold, two silver, two bronze.
Next up is the team competition. The U.S. and many other teams made some strategic changes in their line-ups. For the U.S., Alex Ackermann was taken out of the lineup and replaced by Chris Crowther in men's doubles. Mexico put Alvaro Beltran at #2, and Canada changed both their doubles and singles line-ups. Should be interesting…
"Some great matches today--
"First round, Cheryl Gudinas beat Angela Grisar in an exciting tiebreaker. Cheryl was down 13-4 in the first game and came back to 14-13 but couldn't finish the game...but the momentum she achieved was very important as she controlled the second game 15-3. Cheryl found a serve (a backhand drive) that bothered Angela (who has a bad left knee). Cheryl started out fast in the tiebreaker using the same serve and Angela was never able to recover with the final score 11-4. That put Cheryl in the medal round, a great accomplishment for a 44-year old (also with one very bad knee) against Paola. Although Cheryl played very well, the younger Mexican was able to pull out the victory, 15-7 and 15-11. It's a bronze medal for Cheryl: a great showing for the veteran!
"Rhonda Rajsich had two challenging matches, the first against the Colombian where she was down most of the first game but came backto win it 15-13. The second game was not close score-wise, but Rhonda had to play hard every point as the players continuously exchanged serves. Rhonda won 15-7. Her second match was much easier as she easily won in two straight. She is now in the gold medal match against Paola!
"Another intense day for Rocky Carson. In his first match against the junior Bolivian (watch out for this kid), Rocky had to fight from behind to win 15-13. The kid is extremely calm and has one of the best back pinches in the game. Rocky unleashed his drive serve in the second game (where had it been??) to win 15-0. Then it was the match everyone was waiting for against Alvaro Beltran of Mexico. The first game went back and forth until 11-11 when Rocky was able to squeeze out a couple of great z-serves for the win. The second game went much like the first with no more than two points separating the players until 11-11. This was the crucial time of the game as Alvaro stopped Rocky four serves in a row. Alvaro during this time served three almost perfect lob nicks that barely came off the back wall, and Rocky somehow, and I mean somehow, splat rolled all three serves - remarkable shots at a very crucial time. Rocky than edged ahead one point at a time and won 15-12. Rocky plays Gilberto Mejia for the gold medal!
"The doubles play later tonight..."
Here’s an update from Jim Hiser on the U.S. Team’s current match status in Guadalajara:
Yesterday (10/19), Alex lost to Gil Mejia from Mexico. Our Women's and Men’s doubles teams both won.
To preview today’s (10/20) matches…
Alex plays a feed-in match against Honduras. He should win this match and then will play a later match against the #2 Bolivian. This will be a real challenge for Alex, but he should be ready.
Rocky will play his first match against Alejandro Herrera from Colombia. Rocky has played him often on the tour and has had good success. If he wins this one, he will play Alvaro Beltran in the semis. These are arguably the two best players in the draw, and it’s a shame they meet in the semis.
Rhonda will play a later match against the winner of Argentina and Venezuela.
Cheryl has perhaps the most difficult match of the day against Cristina Amaya of Colombia. Cristina is an up-and-coming player on the WPRO tour.
Aimee and Rhonda play the Dominican Republic. The women are starting to mesh (this is their first event as a team).
Chris and Shane play Argentina. This will be a tough match, but the team rebounded very well last night after their early loss. They seem even more determined now. If they beat Argentina, they will play the Mexican doubles team in the semis.
Mike Guidry held a team meeting last night to go over today's matches. The Team was upbeat and ready for the medal rounds to get started.
An interesting draw: the Mexican women, Samantha Salas and Paola Longoria, will play each other in the quarters, thus negating their possibility of two medals in the women singles.
Most popular place in the village? Yes, you guessed it - Starbucks!
The medal for the Best Ice Cream goes to Blue Bell’s. Try the cookies and cream!
USOC Updates -- October 19, 2011
Amanda Kendall (Fairfax, Va.) won gold and Erika Erndl (Naples, Fla.) won silver in the women's 100m free, while Conor Dwyer (Winnetka, Ill.) won silver in the men's 200m IM tonight at the Pan American Games. Three swimming finals remain this evening - women’s 800m free, women's 200m fly, and men’s 4x200m free.
Ashley Twitchell (Fayetteville, N.Y.) won silver in the women's 800m freestyle, while Kimberly Vandenberg (Moraga, Calif.) earned the gold medal and Lyndsay DePaul (Orange, Calif.) the silver medal in the 200m fly at the Pan American Games. Conor Dwyer (Winnetka, Ill.), Doug Robison (Charlotte, N.C. ), Charlie Houchin (Raleigh, N.C.), and Matt Patton (Charlotte, N.C,) won gold in the men's 4x200m free. That concludes today's swimming finals at the Pan American Games.
USOC Updates -- October 20, 2011
Glenn Eller (Katy, Texas) won the gold medal in the men’s double trap. It is the 12th shooting medal for the U.S. at the Pan American Games, and sixth gold. He blew away the previous records with a 147 in the qualification and a total score of 195. Previous records were 138 (qualification) and 187 (total score).
Earlier this week…
The team did well today. Cheryl won a big, big match against Claudine Garcia of the Dominican Republic. With Cheryl's injuries (that she has had treated every day by these great trainers ) many of were wondering how she would compete. Her many years of experiences kept Claudine off balance for most of the match, although it did go to a tiebreaker, 11-2. Claudine only had one lead the entire match, and that was 15-14 in the second game. Rocky played solidly as well and actually is using the early round robin matches to practice a few serves and get used to the altitude. Rocky's attitude is tremendous. He recognizes the great opportunity and privilege to be here; he is the leader of the team. Alex also won his first match today. The match outcome was expected against a weaker opponent, and it was great that he won and gained confidence. Tomorrow he plays the #1 Mexican.
The men's doubles plays tonight, and I don't expect a tough match, but you can’t take any team lightly since they have all improved so much. The rest of the team (the women) had the day off.
During the time off, players are visiting other venues to cheer on U.S. Team athletes. The most popular venue seems to be badminton. We also visited archery (a little boring); you can’t see the arrows since they go so fast and far, and you can't see the targets to tell whether they hit the target. Field hockey begins tomorrow, and that should be interesting, at least the practices have been fun to watch. Also tomorrow is a local favorite: “fronton.” It’s a crazy sport held in a huge court (something like jai alai). They use wooden racquets a little larger than a racquetball and a very hard ball that travels very, very fast. Really fun to watch.
Behind the scenes information you may not have wanted to know!
--The plumbing here is questionable. We cannot flush any paper down the toilet!
--No paper, and they serve fried beans at every meal!
--No type of heating in any buildings. It’s not that bad for us, but what about the people who buy the apartments someday?
Tuesday, October 18:
Cheryl played a great game against the #1 Bolivian, one of the best matches she has played in a long time. Her experience showed when the score gets close. She won 15-2, 15 13. Rhonda got a forfeit from Angela Grisar who hurt her knee, and Rocky played a real "crowd pleaser" match against the #1 Bolivian. I do believe if the Bolivian played the tour, he could certainly be in the Top10 and perhaps even the Top 5. Alex is just starting his match against the #1 Mexican and the doubles are later today.
People from U.S. attending the Games:
Fran Davis (coaching Paola Longoria); Alex Ackermann’s parents; Krystal Csuk; Feliz Ruiz;
Ron Grimes from E-Force; Luke St. Onge, Keith Calkins and Gary Mazaroff from the IRF
Just when you think you have everything figured out, something happens to show you that at anytime anything can happen. The heavily-favored USA men's doubles team lost to Costa Rica in a tiebreaker. Although Chris and Shane did not play up to their potential, the Costa Rica team has to be given credit for getting the U.S. team completely out of their game. As I stated earlier, the other countries are rapidly improving. The U.S. can no longer take any match for granted. Some examples of some early upsets here: Mexico men’s doubles losing to Ecuador; Canada women's doubles losing to Argentina, Canadian Mike Green losing to Ecuador!
Wednesday, October 19:
The third day is just starting and we have some big matches--Rocky against the #1 Bolivian, Cheryl against Bolivia, Rhonda and Aimee against Ecuador, Alex against the #1 Mexico player and the men's doubles in a must-win game against Ecuador. Should be a fun and exciting day!
Every night in the Village there is local entertainment for the players. Last evening they had a Mexican band that featured a male and female dancer who danced the salsa…did they ever! They must have danced continuously for over an hour, went into the crowd and got everyone up onto the floor (including yours truly, but only for a short time!). It was great to see all the countries dancing, laughing and just enjoying the time together with their fellow competitors. Too bad politicians can’t learn from sport…
USOC Updates: October 18-19, 2011
Miranda Wilder (Diana, Texas) won gold and Kayle Browning (Wooster, Ark.) captured the bronze in the women’s trap (shooting) competition today at the Pan American Games.
Julia Smit (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) won the women's 200m IM relay with a time of 2:13.73. It was her second gold medal of the 2011 Pan American Games.
The U.S. closed out the evening’s swimming finals with five additional medals and two Pan American Games records.
Men’s 1500 Free
Arthur Frayler (Fort Washington, Pa.) – GOLD (15:19.59)
Ryan Feeley(Rye, N.Y.) – SILVER (15:22.19)
Men's 200 Breast
Sean Mahoney (Rio Vista, Calif.)– GOLD (2:11.62– Pan Am Record)
Chris Burckle (Louisville, Ky.)– SILVER (2:12.60)
Women's 4x200 Free Relay
Catherine Breed (Pleasanton, Calif.), Elizabeth Pelton (Ruxton, Md.), Chelsea Nauta (Tampa, Fla.)
and Amanda Kendall (Fairfax, Va.)– GOLD (8:01.18.– Pan Am Record)
Team USA won four of the five swimming finals of the evening, capturing six medals, including four golds and two silvers.
Julie Zetlin (Bethesda, Md.) won her third gold medal of the 2011 Pan American Games with the title in the individual ribbon competition, which brings her overall medal total to four (3 golds, 1 silver).
Beijing Olympian Jennifer Goldsack (Banstead, U.K.) won gold in the lightweight women’s single sculls on Wednesday morning at the XVI Pan American Games, giving the U.S. its third gold medal of the regatta. After getting off the line in second position, Goldsack took control of the race in the second 500 meters and rowed to a 6.65-second victory over Brazil’s Fabiana Beltrame. Goldsack finished with a time of 7:48.77. Cuba’s Yaima Velazquez won the bronze medal.
Michael McPhail (Darlington, Wis.) won gold in the men's 50m rifle prone final with a score of 693.2, while teammate Jason Parker (Columbus, Ga.) earned bronze with 690.8 points.
Sandra Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Ala.) captured the silver medal in the women’s 25m sport pistol to earn the United States’ first quota spot in the event for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The pair of Howard Bach (San Francisco, Calif.) and Tony Gunawan (Los Angeles, Calif.) defeated teammates Halim Haryanto Ho (Milpitas, Calif.) and Sattawat Pongnairat (Orange, Calif.) 21-10, 21-14 in the men's doubles badminton final of the Pan Am Games to earn a gold medal.
The pair, both Olympians, have reunited with an eye on the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Ho and Pongnairat claimed the silver medal.
The U.S. swept the medals for the first time ever in the individual dressage competition at the Pan American Games, as Steffen Peters (San Diego, Calif.) won gold, Heather Blitz (Hutchinson, Kan.) garnered silver and Marisa Festerling (Camarillo, Calif.) captured the bronze.
The three, along with Cesar Para (Whitehouse Station, N.J.) earned the team gold in dressage Oct. 16
Jim Hiser was able to find an Internet connection in the badminton venue and reports on yesterday’s activity at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico:
Monday 10/17/2011 was the first day of competition. Alex Ackermann got his true initiation into international racquetball. He seemed nervous and lost his match in two straight to Ecuador. The rest of the team won their matches. Cheryl Gudinas easily defeated Guatemala, and Rhonda Rajsich also won, while the women's doubles (Aimee Ruiz and Rhonda Rajsich) played very well and won their match in two games. Rocky Carson had no problems in his match. The big match of the day was USA (Chris Crowther and Shane Vanderson) vs Bolivia in men's doubles. Although the US won the first game easily, the second game was very close at 14!
Many of the team members are still getting used to the altitude and fast courts (one mile high) The men played somewhat tentatively in their first match, but their power is difficult for some of the other teams to match. Perhaps the biggest upset of the day was the highly favored Mexico men's doubles team losing to Ecuador. Many had the Mexican team winning the whole event (and they still could come back in the second half), but this loss will put them in the US half of the draw.
The event is very well run. Each match has designated referees and line judges, and the Pan American Games Committee has made sure everything is first class. There is tons of local media and press coverage. Athletes are treated as high dignitaries. Great to see!
The advancement in the other countries is evident, and it will not be long until some of the lesser known and recognized countries are standing on the awards podium. Watch out for Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia…
Some interesting facts:
- · The Opening Ceremonies was the largest and most expensive in Pan American Games history
- · Over 6,000 athletes eat each day
- · All the furniture is made out of cardboard so it can be recycled after the event.
- · One of the most popular beers in the Village bar is Coors Light
Due to Internet connection challenges, this update from Jim Hiser was written Sunday evening 10/16/2011. Refer to the 10/18/2011 USOC publication pp. 5-6 for an update on the US Team’s Monday results. It was a good day!
The team practiced this afternoon but had the morning off. Some worked out in the tremendous gym while others took advantage of the fantastic pool. There is a huge running area through the woods behind the complex, and at least one player investigated that area.
US Team Coach Mike Guidry and I attended the IRF coaches’ meeting. It was interesting with numerous debates regarding the format and the referees, but all in all, everything was handled and we should be all set for the first day of competition tomorrow. The athletes had a team meeting tonight to discuss their matches. Our concern is that all their needs are handled and there not be any distractions. The trainers are great and worked on Rocky’s and Shane's arms for a long time. Nothing serious, but with the US Open last week they were feeling some discomfort. Rocky said it was "the best arm massage I have ever had.” The athletes are the center of attention, and we make sure they get anything they need.
Alex Ackermann is the rookie, and I imagine his initiation will be soon. Each year the team normally does something “for” the rookie, and I am sure this year will be no exception.
All tickets are sold out for racquetball! We are not used to this type of coverage or interest. Actually we are scrambling to get some tickets for some family members who are arriving tomorrow, and like any huge sporting event, it is difficult. There are no tickets available---UNREAL!
The athletes are ready. The most difficult match tomorrow will be men's doubles. They get Bolivia first match and Bolivia is not easy. They have the former World Junior champion paired with a very good partner. Also, we are at a higher altitude here, and the Bolivians are used to those conditions. All countries have much-improved players, and no country can be taken for granted.
The match-ups for Monday are:
Rocky vs Ecuador #2
Alex vs Ecuador #1
Shane and Chris vs Bolivia
Rhonda Vs Ecuador #2
Cheryl vs Guatemala #1
Rhonda and Aimee vs Venezuela
Our matches begin at 9:00 am and the last match (doubles) is at 6:30.
Another situation we have to worry about tomorrow morning is traffic. Although the club is only 30 minutes away with no traffic (today, Sunday), we have been told it could take up to 90 minutes with traffic. The athletes are preparing to leave two hours before their matches because Olympic rules stipulate that if you are late there is no excuse; you are forfeited. Again, not like normal racquetball events but more professional.
Reports from Monday via USOC email reports:
Monday, October 17, 2011
Matt Rawlings (Wharton, Texas) and Jonathan Hall (Carrollton, Ga.) went 1-2 in the men’s 10m air rifle at the Pan American Games. Rawlings’ gold-medal performance was a Pan American Games record (both qualification and final) and Hall’s silver medal earned a second quota spot in the event for the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Emily Caruso (Fairfield, Conn.) won gold in the women’s 10m air rifle, equaling the Pan American Games record in the qualification, then breaking the final record with 497.8 points. The win earned a second quota spot for the U.S. in the event for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Julie Zetlin (Bethesda, Md.) won gold in the rhythmic gymnastics individual ball competition after capturing silver in the individual hoop event at the Pan American Games.
Gillian Ryan (Kutztown, Pa.) won gold in the women’s 400m free and Dan Madwed (Stamford, Conn.) won gold in the men’s 200m fly tonight at the Pan American Games. Two swimming finals remain this evening - women’s 100m breaststroke and men’s 100m back.
Annie Chandler (San Antonio, Texas) won gold and Ashley Wanland (Long Grove, Ill.) won silver in the women’s 100m breast, while Eugene Godsoe (Greensboro, N.C.) won silver in the men's 100m back. That ends tonight's swimming finals at the Pan American Games.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Beijing Olympian Margot Shumway (Westlake, Ohio) ended her performance at the XVI Pan American Games with a gold medal, a first for the United States in rowing this week. Shumway was in second place through the 1,500-meter mark in the women’s single sculls, before sprinting past Canadaand into the lead. She held off Argentina in the final stretch to win in 7:53.05.
Ty Otto (Seattle, Wash.) and Michael Gennaro (Havertown, Pa.) won gold in the men’s pair – the third medal of the day for the United States in rowing and second gold.
Otto and Gennaro dominated Sunday’s preliminary heat en route to today’s final, where they crossed ahead of Brazil (silver) and Canada (bronze) for the gold medal.
USA Racquetball Executive Director Jim Hiser provides commentary on the first days of the US Team's Pan American Games Experience:
“We all made it to Houston and the athlete processing was very organized and quick. All athletes received an assortment of clothes from Nike: shoes, shirts, shorts and a warm-up as well as Oakley sunglasses. They all thought Christmas had arrived early!
“The next morning at 5 a.m. we boarded a bus for the airport and flew to Guadalajara. It was an easy flight, but the weather was terrible--rain and wind. We were met by a group of event volunteers and USA Security officers who guided us through customs, thankfully with no problems. We then were bused to the Athletes’ Village in the pouring rain but without incident. The Village was about two blocks from the bus landing, and we all walked through the rain like good USA soldiers. Once we arrived at the USA dorms, soaked to the skin, we received our keys and a briefing. The rooms are adequate but certainly not hotel level. There are some interesting anecdotes about some of the athletes’ experiences, but these will wait for a later time.
“We were not able to schedule practice for the first day since the courts were not ready, so the athletes took the day off and looked around the Village. The Village is really very good. The work-out area matches any fitness club in the USA and the pool, running trails, stores, etc. are all first class. There is even a Dominos and Burger King in the village except the Burger King sells only ice cream--weird! In the middle of the day, the USA team was honored and the USA flag raised (yes, in the rain). It was really a very nice ceremony despite the weather. That evening was a USA athletes’ meeting, and it was great to see our racquetball athletes treated the same as all other USA Team members. You could see the pride in each and every one of our athletes as they listened intently to others speak about their pride in representing their country. Most of our athletes have never participated in an event like this. In this atmosphere, all athletes are equal, and the only thing that matters is that you represent your country proudly and do your best. I have no doubt our athletes will do that.
“Another facet that is very different for these athletes is that they have every resource possible available to help with their performance. For security, there are Secret Service agents with us at all times when we leave the village; for physio, there are numerous doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, etc. and even a nutritionist for athletes to speak with; for fitness, we have a trainer available at all times, and for psychology, there have a psychologist available for consultation. Everything is available to assure the best performance possible.
“Although I have attended every Pan American Games that included racquetball, this Games is the best ever. The Opening Ceremonies was equal to any Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies. Over 60,000 people greeted our athletes as we entered the stadium. Can you imagine racquetball athletes being cheered by 60,000 fans? What a moment of pride and joy! And the stadium (built especially for this event) was equal to any football stadium in the US: very modern, four levels high with every modern convenience you could imagine. I am hopeful some of you were able to see the ceremonies on TV -- it was something the athletes and I will never forget.
“Today we practiced at the venue for the first time. The courts are in a complex with many other sports. This will allow our athletes to visit some of the other sports when they are not playing. The courts are very good, very fast, with great viewing and two sidewall courts. The complex has been set up perfectly with individual digital scoreboards that actually show video between points -- very technically advanced.
“The weather has cleared, the athletes are ready, and the venue is great. What a privilege and honor to be here with these athletes and to represent this great sport and this country. I thank you all for providing me this opportunity.”
Via the USOC, below are early USA Team results from the various sporting competitions in Guadalajara:
Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo.) just won the gold medal in the women’s cross country event in cycling-mountain bike. It was the first gold medal awarded of the XVI Pan American Games that kicked off today in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Through three events in tonight’s swimming finals, Team USA has won six medals:
Women’s 100m Fly
Claire Donahue (Lenoir City, Tenn.) – GOLD (58.73)
Elaine Breeden (Lexington, Ky.) – BRONZE (59.81)
Men’s 400m IM
Conor Dwyer (Winnetka, Ill.) – SILVER (4:18.22)
Robert Margalis (St. Petersburg, Fla.) – BRONZE (4:24.88)
Women’s 400m IM
Julia Smit (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) – GOLD (4:46.15)
Allysa Vavra (Coaldale, Pa.) – BRONZE (4:48.05)
Rachel Bootsma (Eden Prairie, Minn.) won gold in the 100m backstroke at the Pan American Games with a time of 1:00.37 and teammate Elizabeth Pelton (Ruxton, Md.) took silver at 1:01.12.
Catherine Breed (Pleasanton, Calif.) won gold in the 200m freestyle in 2:00.08, while Chelsea Nauta (Tampa, Fla.) earned silver in 2:00.62.
Margaux Isaksen (Fayetteville, Ark.) won the gold medal in the women’s modern pentathlon event, which earned the U.S. a quota spot for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Julie Zetlin (Bethesda, Md.) won the individual all-around gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics at the Pan American Games with a final score of 100.850.
The U.S. closed out the evening’s swimming finals with four additional medals at the Pan American Games.
Men’s 400 Free
Charlie Houchin (Raleigh, N.C.) – GOLD (3:50.95)
Matt Patton (Charlotte, N.C.) – SILVER (3:51.25)
Women’s 4x100m Free Relay
Madison Kennedy (Avon, Conn.), Elizabeth Pelton (Ruxton, Md.), Amanda Kendall (Fairfax, Va.), Erika Erndl (Naples, Fla.) – GOLD (3:40.66 – Pan American Record)
Team USA won four of the five swimming finals of the evening, capturing nine medals, including four golds, two silvers and three bronzes.
Daryl Szarenski (Seale, Ala.) just won the gold medal in men’s 10m air pistol with a Pan American Games record score of 583. The gold-medal finish earns the U.S. a second quota spot for the London 2012 Olympic Games in the event.
The U.S. won its fourth straight Pan American Games team gold medal in dressage with Cesar Parra (Whitehouse Station, N.J.), Steffen Peters (San Diego, Calif.), Heather Blitz (Hutchinson, Kan.) and Marisa Festerling (Camarillo, Calif.).
In men’s modern pentathlon, Dennis Bowsher (Dallas, Texas) qualified a U.S. spot for the London Games with a fourth-place finish, moving up from sixth place heading into the final combined run/shoot event.