Santiago, CHE (Oct. 30, 2023) – Team Canada’s cyclists made a strong impression at the biggest multi-sport event ever held in Chile, with a team of 26 athletes racking up seven medals at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games, held from Oct. 20-Nov. 5, and demonstrating incredible potential for future success.
“Many of our riders were competing in their first Major Games,” said Dan Proulx, National Team Head Coach. “They rose to the occasion and performed well under pressure, earning some hard-fought medals along the way. We took this as an opportunity to refine the systems and athlete supports needed to perform next summer at the Paris Olympics.”
On Oct. 21, Mountain Bike put the first two medals on the board across all sports for Team Canada. Ontarians Gunnar Holmgren, 24, of Orillia and Jenn Jackson, 28, of Barrie both claimed gold with standout performances in their respective cross-country Olympic races. Jackson carried on a strong tradition for Canadian women, who have won mountain bike gold nearly every other Games since the event’s introduction in 1995. Joining her in the women’s race was Sandra Walter of Coquitlam, BC, who illustrated the National Team’s depth by also earning a top-10 finish as the oldest Canadian competitor at 43 years of age.
BMX racing followed suit on Oct. 22, with Molly Simpson of Red Deer, AB, earning women’s silver. The youngest rider in the final at 20 years old, she demonstrated incredible consistency in her first year competing at the Elite level. Simpson is the first Canadian woman to earn a Pan American Games medal in BMX racing since its introduction in 2007. Coupled with top-10 finishes by Teigen Pascual, 20, of Squamish, BC, and Ryan Tougas, 21, of Pitt Meadows, BC, the young team’s performance shows exciting growth for the National Team.
Next up was track cycling, which started off with a bang on Oct. 23. The men’s sprint team – Tokyo 2020 Olympian Nick Wammes, 24, of Bothwell, ON, James Hedgcock, 21, of Ancaster, ON, and Tyler Rorke, 20, of Baden, ON – added a third gold to Canada’s tally in another show of force after also winning the event at the San Juan 2023 Pan American Track Cycling Championships. On the women’s side, Jackie Boyle, 26, of Toronto, ON, Sarah Orban, 28, of Calgary, AB, and Emy Savard, 20, of Saguenay, QC, successfully captured bronze in the team sprint despite the challenges of being a recently formed line-up.
The following day, Devaney Collier, 25, of Edmonton, AB, Kiara Lylyk, 19, of Guelph, ON, Fiona Majendie, 25, of Vancouver, BC, and Ruby West, 24, of Dundas, ON, established their dominance with gold in the women’s team pursuit. The men followed a similar pattern on Oct. 28: Chris Ernst, 24, of Kitchener, ON, Michael Foley, 24, of Milton, ON, Carson Mattern, 19, of Ancaster, ON, and Sean Richardson, 22 of Vancouver, BC, won gold and set a new Pan American record of 3:53.593m in the process. With an average age of 21 for the men and 23 for the women, and only Foley having had Major Games experience at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Canada’s pursuit teams are quickly establishing themselves as ones to watch moving forward.
Finally, exciting talent was on display with Riley Pickrell’s top-10 finish in the men’s road race. On the verge of making his debut at the Elite level, the 22-year-old from Victoria, BC, kept pace with many of the Western Hemisphere’s top riders to place eighth in a grueling 157.5km race. Two other Canadians also managed top-20 finishes: Ernst and, for the women, Adèle Normand, 21, of Alma, QC.
Proulx concluded, “Competing in a Games environment requires so much more detail and problem solving than a normal World Cup or World Championships. I’m really pleased with how our team showed up here. The positive vibe and camaraderie within the team was a difference maker.”
Competition continues for Team Canada with the Parapan American Games, which will be held from Nov. 17-26. More information, including results and the full schedule of events, can be found at www.santiago2023.org.
Source: Cycling Canada