By Dan Plouffe
Canada will send a large, young team to this year’s Pan American Games on Oct. 14-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the Ottawa contingent keeps true to that theme.
Roughly 60% of the athletes from the nation’s capital are age 22 or younger, including seven that are 18 or younger.
Sixteen-year-old gymnast Talia Chiarelli is the youngest of the group. With the Pan Am Games taking place over two months later than usual in steamy Guadalajara, Canada is sending development teams in many sports to one of the world’s biggest sporting events since many athletes fear it will hinder the timing of their preparations for the London 2012 Olympics.
“The Pan Am Games is really a mini-Olympic Games,” notes Canada swimming team leader Michel Bérubé, who coaches 17-year-old Karyn Jewell of Ottawa. “That experience, when you’re 16 or 17, is a big thing.”
Despite over 5,600 athletes from 42 nations across the Americas competing in the last Pan Am Games and all the same experiences such as an athletes’ village as the Olympics, the Games still struggle to be regarded as an elite competition for the very best in the world.
“At the Olympics, you see more deceived faces than anything else,” Bérubé notes. “Pan Ams means less pressure. It’s fun. People are smiling.”
Some of the best bets for medals from Ottawa include Sultana Frizell (women’s hammer throw), Sherraine Schalm (fencing), Kristin Gauthier (canoe-kayak), and women’s soccer players Christina Julien and Rachelle Beanlands, and men’s water polo players John Conway and Aaron Feltham.
Other city athletes or those that belong to local clubs headed to the Pan Am Games include:
Michael Robertson (athletics)
Ashton Baumann (swimming)
Stephan Wojcikiewicz (badminton)
Chris Bisson (baseball)
Tyson Hinz (basketball)
Cole Hobin (basketball)
Phil Scrubb (basketball)
Kellie Ring (basketball)
Kadie Riverin (basketball)
Gabriel Beauchesne-Sévigny (canoe-kayak)
Kelleigh Ryan (fencing)
Mo Zhang (table tennis)
Pradeeban Peter-Paul (table tennis)
Pierre-Luc Hinse (table tennis)
Pierre-Luc Thériault (table tennis)
Gabriela Dabrowski (tennis)
Samantha Cornett (squash)
Melanie McCann (modern pentathlon)
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