Pan-Am Flim Flam

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image017-jpg.50328The 2015 Pan American Games ended last Sunday in Toronto. The U.S. delegation came on top in the medal table, followed by the host country Canada, which achieved their best performance ever in the history of this continental multi-sport event.

What about the Venezuelan delegation? How it went up north to what the central government likes to call the “golden generation” (Generación de Oro). Not quite well…

Venezuela finished eighth for the second consecutive edition and got the fewest amount of medals (both gold and total) since the 1999 games (coincidentally also in Canada, but in Winnipeg). Our athletes’ final haul was eight golds (including two for Olympic fencing champion Ruben Limardo), 22 silvers and 20 bronzes to make 50 overall.

Before Toronto 2015 started, Sports Minister Pedro Infante said that Venezuela “…would fight for the seventh place with Argentina”. The Argentine delegation didn’t just keep the seventh place, but they doubled us on golds and had 25 more medals in general.

Both the Sports Ministry and the Venezuelan Olympic Committee (COV) are not hiding their frustration over the results and are looking for possible faults in both the athletes’ preparation and the trainers’ assistance. Eduardo Álvarez, current COV chairman (and former Sports Minister) was emphatic over what he considers as weak points:

“We were in more than 20 finals and in at least 12 of them, we were beaten by the United States and Canada and in others by Cuba and Colombia. I think we lacked some maturity and international experience.”

Sports Vice-Minister for High Performance José Alejandro Terán admitted the need to improve the athletes’ physical training, including its control and supervision. Also, he wants to increase support for trainers, judges and referees.

Venezuela’s performance in recent Pam-Am Games has been quite peculiar: After the low point in Winnipeg ’99, the country got a historical high in Santo Domingo 2003, followed by a slow decline in Rio 2007 and Guadalajara 2011 reaching a low point again in Toronto 2015. In comparison, our Colombian neighbors have been increasing steadily in the last five editions.

With an Olympic cycle edging towards its culmination in Rio next year, Venezuelan sport authorities are putting their hope in the next one. It won’t be easy though, as Colombia will host two of those events: 2017 Bolivarian Games in Santa Marta and 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla (replacing former host Guatemala).

But Venezuela wasn’t the only nation who left Toronto disappointed: Cuba got only 97 medals, including 36 golds. That’s the lowest count for the Caribbean nation since the 1971 edition in Cali, Colombia. And if that isn’t enough, 28 Cuban athletes deserted during the games.

1 COMMENT

  1. Come on, everybody knows the actual causes of this: The ECONOMIC WAR (Dun dun DUUUNNNN!)

    Also, the part about the cubans deserting, damn hilarious xD

  2. Glamorously advertised International competitive sports events serve as a kind of emblematic or symbolic proxy for wars of plunder and glory against other nations , the intent is to display the superiority of ones own country over others so that the inhabitants of the winning country can proudly crow over the glorious achievements of their athletes. Its really quite silly and primitive . a kind of atavic attachement to those past days when a country went to war to showoff their superiority as grand warriors using all kind of hoity toity pretexts. the better to inflate their collective conceits. Its grand entertainmend and tickles peoples patrioticlly enhanced egoes no end . Thats why govts put so much attention on getting the countries athletes to do good in those events because they feel that peoples sattisfaction at their feats will rub on on them as the designated bearers of the banner that represents the national honour in peoples mind.

    It would be fun if they held contests on which country achieved the most economic growth or the highest PIB , that would really show how superior peoples of each country are capable of organizing themselves economically and politically toaccomplish those things , which usually translate into a greater well being for the inhabitants of the country concerned , something that really matters and which altough less epically glorious brings the greatest most lasting happiness to their lives. !!

  3. El eje Madrid-Toronto-Miami-Bogota. Le metieron droga a nuestros grandes atletas bolibarianos.

  4. Love how even with US-Cuban relations being re-established, Cubans still desert their motherland when the opportunity knocks.

  5. How much did all this cost?
    Atheletes, trainers coaches, hangers on, the secretary of the good feelings minister, hotels, food etc., etc.

    Can a country that has no food or toilet paper (or beer) really afford to mount a disaster like this.
    I have sympathy for the atheletes but these are NOT normal times.

    They should have stayed home.

  6. The deal is, training a world-class athlete, never mind a team takes effort, because natural talent only goes so far. You need a modern training schedule designed to get the most performance, an strategy on how to deal with the event calendar, top-end gear, etc.

    The biggest example of this is how Germany managed to take full advantage of the talent that they had to win the World Cup.

    All of this is a bunch of modern research and a lot of money. With massive brain drain and not that much money, I don’t see how this country is going to avoid losing. Nevermind when the mass desertions start.

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