Posted by Editoress on 10/27/23
Canadian cyclists opened the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, last weekend by winning both women's and men's gold medals in mountain bike and the silver medal in women's BMX Racing. They have continued to add to the medal total on the track, winning four medals in the four days at the velodrome - three gold and a bronze - and breaking the Pan American Games record in the men's Team Pursuit twice.
The gold medal men's sprint team from the 2023 Pan American Continental Championships reunited to take on the event once again in Santiago, on the first day of track competition. Comprised of Nick Wammes, James Hedgcock, and Tyler Rorke, the squad set the pace in qualifying with a winning time of 43.829 seconds. Next, they faced Colombia in an exciting gold medal final, where their time of 43.396 narrowly edged out Colombia's 43.421. The bronze medal was captured by Mexico (43.396).
"We wanted this one so bad, it's been a long season and this kind of feels like we're putting icing on the cake," said Tokyo 2020 Olympian Wammes. "It seems like honestly, whenever we race together we keep getting faster and faster, just better as a team. We've kind of matched our best time all season right now and we're in a very heavily trained state so I think we're getting stronger and looking forward to next season - Olympics are in 10 months!"
Playing off the energy from their teammates' win and the intensity of the crowd, the women's sprint team also rose to the occasion to capture bronze. Jackie Boyle, Sarah Orban, and Emy Savard, mimicked the men's result by beating Colombia by less than a second: Canada's time was 48.498 seconds while Colombia stopped the clock at 48.836. They were joined on the podium by Mexico with gold (47.134) and the United States with silver (48.001).
The women's sprint team was recently formed due to the late addition of Savard. Speaking to how the impressive team dynamic has come together so quickly, Boyle commented, "When [National Team Coach Franck Durivaux] said at the beginning, 'Control what you can control', I think all of us did that. We've only done three or four team sprints together so every time we improved and when it actually mattered, we took off like half a second so that's great."
Flying high after qualifying first, the women's pursuit team entered the gold medal final on Day 2 with their eyes on the gold medal. Devaney Collier, Kiara Lylyk, Fiona Majendie, and Ruby West, stayed cool, collected and powerful to catch Mexico with a time of 4:23.000. Colombia was the winner of the bronze medal heat with a time of 4:24.964.
"We used a young alternate who shows a lot of promise today and we managed to get it done with a really fast time, too," said National Team Coach Phil Abbott of Lylyk, who was a late substitute after Ngaire Barraclough withdrew due to illness. "We came in as favourites and caught the other team, so couldn't ride it to completion but a gold medal's a gold medal. Hopefully some of this team will be in Paris and some of them will be in LA for the Olympics, so this is absolutely great preparation for not only the level of competition, but also managing the venue and all the Games-related things we don't get to experience the rest of the time."
Lylyk added, "I couldn't be prouder of this team. To jump in and for them to support me, it's amazing. Just a thank you to everyone that's gotten us here, we've all come up through the ranks to be here and it's an amazing feeling. The passion [the Chilean] people have is incredible and it just brings your racing up a level."
In qualifying for the men's team pursuit on Day 3 of track competition (Thursday), Chris Ernst, Michael Foley, Carson Mattern, and Sean Richardson, not only led the pack but set a new Pan American record with a time of 3:55.981 to finish nearly a full five seconds ahead of Colombia. For the following round one ride, Ernst swapped out with 18-year-old Campbell Parrish, and the refreshed team caught Argentina to earn a spot in Friday's gold medal final against Colombia, which they won with another Games record - 3:53.593 .
"[Argentina] really raced us, we were impressed with the ride they put down but managed to catch them about 3k into the ride. We're off to the gold final tomorrow, we're looking forward to it," said Tokyo 2020 Olympian Foley on Thursday, who won gold in the event at the San Juan 2023 Pan American Track Championships alongside Richardson and Ernst as alternate. "It's a young team so we've used all of our riders, which is awesome as well because it shows the depth of our program."
"It's been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. I've been to a few World Championships and other events and the vibe is unmatched here," said Mattern, who was 2022 Junior Track World Champion in the men's individual pursuit and omnium. "Just being around all the best athletes from our country as well as others uplifts us to do the best and represent Canada the best we can. It's a really tight-knit squad, we all have each other's backs ... I know I have a job to do, everyone else does their job, we take care of each other and win medals."
National Team Coach Laura Brown added, "Other than Michael, this was everyone's first Games experience, so all five riders did a great job handling the crowd, the distractions and the pressure they put on themselves. We often race Colombia in the Pan American finals and they always put up a good battle so it was an exciting race. It's still not a personal best for our team, which shows you how much talent this young team really has, but any time you break a record is something to be proud of. In addition to their talent, I'm also proud of how much love this team has for each other and how much they support each other."
In other events:
Foley also competed in the men's Omnium. The Tokyo 2020 Olympian placed fourth in the Scratch race; eighth in the Tempo race; second in the Elimination race; and placed fifth overall after a hard-fought Points race. Gold was awarded to Hugo Nestor Emiliano Ruiz Calle (PER); silver went to Ricardo Peña Salas (MEX); and bronze was won by Jacob Thomas Decar Zúñiga (CHI).
In the women's Omnium, Devaney Collier, placed ninth in the Scratch race, 11th in the Tempo and fourth in the Elimination. A final push in the Points race landed her fifth overall. Yareli Acevedo Mendoza (MEX) claimed gold, Lina Marcela Hernandez (COL), took silver and Catalina Anaís Soto Campos (CHE) earned bronze.
In the men's individual Sprint, Nick Wammes displayed his growth since finishing ninth in the event at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games. The 24-year-old Olympian thrilled the crowd across qualification, 1/8th and quarter-final rounds with both decisive victories and an exciting head-to-head finish in his successful quest to reach the semi-final round. He won only one of three bouts against Jair Sur Tjon En Fa (SUR) to move to the bronze medal final, where he fell in two heats to Kevin Santiago Quintero Chavarro (COL). The gold medal went to Nicholas Paul of Trinidad and Tobago, while Tjon En Fa took silver.
Also competing in the men's Sprint for Canada was Tyler Rorke. After a strong showing in the morning's qualification and 1/8 final, he fell to Jair Tjon En Fa (SUR) in the quarter final and ended up placing seventh overall.
Sarah Orban also had a tough Sprint competition for the women. She placed second in qualifying; was relegated in her 1/8 finals heats against Chile's Daniela Alejandra Colilef Barrios; fought her way back in the repechage but ultimately lost in the quarter final to Martha Bayona Pineda (COL), to eventually finish sixth overall. Orban was joined in the women's sprint by her gold medal teammate from the team sprint, Emy Savard. The 20-year-old continued her National Team debut in Santiago by placing 13th.
In the women's Keirin, Jackie Boyle crashed in Round 1, suffering only minor injuries but unfortunately ending her Games experience. Boyle leaves Santiago with a bronze medal from the women's team sprint.
in the men's Keirin, James Hedgcock made the medal final, finishing just outside the medals in fourth place.
In the women's Madison, the Canadian team of Devaney Collier and Ngaire Barraclough did not finish after Barraclough crashed. In the men's Madison, Ernst and Foley had a quick turnaround after collecting their medals in the Team Pursuit to perform in the men's Madison. Foley successfully returned to his bike after an early collision to finish the 200-lap race alongside Ernst, placing fifth overall with 33 points. Mexico ended up with gold (90 points), while Colombia took silver (46 points) and the United States earned bronze (43 points).
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