The Canadian athletics team had their best showing ever at the Pan American Games over the previous nine days in Toronto, winning 24 medals, 10 of them gold.
For distance running fans, the excitement got kicked off early. Mohammed Ahmed, on the first evening of track competition, won the men’s 10,000m in an exciting sprint finish to out-kick Juan Luis Barrios of Mexcio (Barrios would later in the week successfully defend his Pan Am Games 5,000m title). Later in the evening, Matt Hughes won the men’s steeplechase while Alex Genest finished second.
Melissa Bishop would, the following evening, win the women’s 800m. Andre De Grasse won the first of his two gold medals at the Games, claiming the 100m title.
Other middle-distance medals came from silver and bronze medal performances by Nate Brannen and Charles Philibert-Thiboutot in the men’s 1,500m, and Nicole Sifuentes and Sasha Gollish in the women’s race.
Lanni Marchant and Geneviève Lalonde took home a bronze in the women’s 10,000m and 3,000m steeplechase events, respectively.
The previous bests games by total medal count also came on home soil, at the 1967 Games in Winnipeg, where the team won 24 medals. In 2007, the team won seven gold medals in Rio de Janeiro.
Unfortunately, the track team didn’t meet the goal jokingly set out by head coach Peter Eriksson during the Games: to win more medals than the swimming team. Canada’s swimming team won 27 medals.
Team Canada is not finished on the track for the summer. This weekend the national junior team will compete on home soil at the Pan American junior championships in Edmonton. Aug. 7-9 the NACAC senior team will compete in San José, Costa Rica. World championships will take place in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium — home to the 2008 Olympics — between Aug. 22-30.