Thousands of top athletes from the Americas are gathering in Santiago, Chile to compete for medals in dozens of sports in the weeks ahead.
Team Canada’s contingent at the 2023 Pan American Games is made up of 473 athletes, including 45 from Alberta. More than half of those competitors hail from the Calgary area.
Modern pentathlon, rowing, shooting, squash and swimming are just a few of the sports Calgarians will want to keep an eye on between Oct. 20th and Nov. 5th.
Kelly Fitzsimmons, Olivia Li and Quinn Schulz are three of the five members of the Canadian modern pentathlon squad who call the Stampede City home and coach Joshua Riker-Fox is from Delacour, Alberta.
“Having the opportunity to attend a major games and represent Team Canada has been one of my dreams since I started this sport at ten years old, and having the opportunity now to go and compete in Santiago at the Pan Am Games is surely a dream come true,” said Schulz in a Pentathlon Canada press release.
“I can’t wait to compete and put down a performance I know I’ll be proud of.”
The 18-year-old won bronze at the 2022 Pan Am junior championships in Brazil.
“For me, Pan American competitions have a special place in my heart thanks to the incredible energy of the volunteers and athletes. I look forward to being on the ground in Santiago with our team and delivering a strong performance for Canada,” said Fitzsimmons, who won Canadian modern pentathlon titles in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
The sport – which joined the Pan Am Games in 1951 – combines fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping, shooting and running. Competition takes place Oct. 21-23 and Oct. 25-27.
Canada’s shooting team is setting its sights on the podium with a 14-member squad that includes two-time Olympian Lynda Kiejko of Calgary.
“I am thrilled to be named to my third Pan American Games,” said Kiejko in a Canadian Olympic Committee media release.
“My family has a long history in shooting sports and I am excited and privileged to be continuing that story. Representing my country at the games is always such an honour, and I wear the maple leaf with great pride to represent shooting sports on behalf of Canada.”
Fellow Calgarian Tye Ikeda is making his Pan Am Games debut this fall.
“It’s been a great year of training, competition and building our shooting team,” said Ikeda. “With the support of the Future Olympians Fund program, I have been working hard to get to this level of competition and I’m looking forward to competing for Canada at the Pan Am Games.”
The pair will be joined by another familiar face from Cowtown, Trystan Curran-Routledge, and Calgarian Michele Esercitato is an alternate athlete. Shooting runs between Oct. 21-27 in Pudahuel.
Calgary will also be represented in numerous water sports.
“I’m super excited to represent Canada at the Pan American Games,” said Benjamin Cote, who is competing in open water swimming.
“I can’t wait to swim in both the pool and the open water.”
Open water swimming happens on Oct. 29th at Lagunas Los Morros.
Stephen Calkins (Calgary) and Finlay Knox (Okotoks) are also part of the swimming contingent.
The artistic swimming events occur between Oct. 31st and Nov. 3rd at Estadio Nacional and Calgarian Jonnie Newman is on the nine-member team.
Olympian and 2019 Pan Am gold medal winner Caeli McKay, 24, has high hopes for herself and the other eight members of Canada’s diving team in Santiago.
“It’s been a very good season for me. After injuring my ankle a few weeks away from the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, I needed two years and an operation to get back on top. It really was a challenge. This season, I am feeling like I’ve regained all my potential with my new ankle. I am back at 100 percent. I am looking forward to showing what I can do at these Pan American Games,” the Calgarian said in a Diving Plongeon Canada press release.
Diving events are set to go ahead Oct. 20-25 at Estadio Nacional.
Both the men’s and women’s water polo teams have Calgary content, as well.
Rae Lekness will be in the pool for the women’s side, while Cora Campbell serves as an assistant coach.
The men’s team features Matthew Halajian, assistant coach Gyula Toth and alternate Bryant Joudrie. Water polo competition is scheduled from Oct. 30th to Nov. 4th.
ROWING IN THE SAME DIRECTION
Canada will send 16 rowers to Santiago after qualifying ten boat classes for the Pan Am Games.
The team includes Calgarians Shaye de Paiva and Kendra Hartley, as well as Airdrie’s Olivia McMurray.
Rowing competition happens from Oct. 21-25 in Concepcion.
Meanwhile, Calgary’s Sarah Orban will wear the maple leaf in the track sprint cycling event, taking place between Oct. 24-27 at Parque Penalolen velodrome, and Melanie Scholz will be part of women’s field hockey action starting on Oct. 26th with a match against Cuba.
A pair of Calgary-area athletes will also suit up for Canada’s rugby sevens squads. Piper Logan is on the women’s team, while Thomas Isherwood of Okotoks is on the men’s side. Rugby sevens, which joined the Pan Am Games in 2011, will take centre stage Nov. 3-4 at Estadio Municipal de La Pintana.
Morgan Rackel (Calgary) was one of 16 athletes to make the cut as a member of the women’s softball team, which will take to the diamond between Oct. 29th and Nov. 4th.
Of the half-dozen athletes representing Canada in squash, two are from Cowtown. Danielle Letourneau won a silver medal in her Pan Am Games debut in Lima in 2019, while Graeme Schnell claimed gold in the men’s team event at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. Calgarian Brett Schille was named an alternate to the team. Squash action runs from Oct. 31st through Nov. 5th at Estadio Nacional.
Sport climbing makes its debut at the 2023 Pan Am Games and Canmore’s Rebecca Frangos is one of 10 Canadians who will seek to take the sport to new heights.
Competition in the sport will include men’s and women’s events, including boulder and lead, as well as a speed trial. Sport climbing is scheduled for Oct. 21-24 and, as with many of the other sports, athletes will have the opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Live coverage of the Pan Am Games is available on CBC Sports, as well as CBC Gem.
- Team Canada By the Numbers: https://olympic.ca/2023/10/12/by-the-numbers-team-canada-heading-into-the-santiago-2023-pan-american-games/.
- Canadian Team Set to Compete at Pan Am Games: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/pan-am-games-team-canada-1.6994205.
Shaye de Paiva
Olivia McMurray (Airdrie)
Thomas Isherwood (Okotoks)
Rebecca Frangos (Canmore)
Finlay Knox (Okotoks)