Colombian athletes bring home 27 gold medals and delight the nation. The Bogota Post looks at how the team performed
Colombia had set its sights high for this year’s Pan American Games in Canada, and the team did not disappoint. As over 7,000 athletes gathered from 41 nations, Colombia took home 72 medals – 27 gold – and recorded a historic fifth place finish.
Not only did the outstanding performances meet the expectations of the Colombian Olympic Committee, they also put Colombian sport firmly on the map ahead of sporting nation Mexico and even starting to challenge Brazil and Cuba.
The Colombian delegation won eight gold medals in weightlifting, three in golf, three in cycling and three in inline skating, but it was Jossimar Calvo who truly excelled during the tournament. The gymnast won gold medals on parallel bars, high bar and rings marking a Colombian record of three gold medals in one edition of the Pan American Games. Calvo was also title favourite for the all-around tournament but a fall out of the rings cost him too many points and left him with the bronze medal. Another bronze medal in the team tournament took his total medal tally to a whopping five. Squash player Miguel Rodríguez lived up to his reputation as favourite to take a gold medal and Mariana Duque-Mariño picked up the title in the women’s tennis tournament.
The 25th gold, which saw Colombia improve on their 2011 performance in Guadalajara, Mexico, was a special one. With it, triple jump athlete Caterine Ibargüen, unbeaten in almost three years, showed that she is ready for the upcoming World Athletics Championships in Beijing. Reaching 15.08 metres, she picked up the gold medal and a season’s best performance, although it didn’t get into the books because of too much tailwind.
Despite all the good performances it wasn’t all sunshine and roses in Canada. Favourite Mariana Pajón crashed out of the BMX tournament leaving her without the expected gold medal. And two positive doping tests were also a big blow for the delegation. Javier Jesús Ortíz Angulo tested positive on stanozolol – in a radio interview the 35-year-old baseball player blamed it on a medicine he hadn’t declared to the anti-doping unit. María Luisa Calle was excluded for testing positive for a forbidden substance, the details of which have not yet been released. The 46-year-old cyclist, who was cleared from a positive doping test at the Olympic Games 2004 in Athens, in which she won a bronze medal, is awaiting the B-sample to prove her innocence.
Chef de Mission Rafael Lloreda stated: “I want to congratulate the whole Colombian delegation for its devotion, professionalism and dedication, because it confirmed Colombia’s name as the Latin American country with the biggest progress over the last ten years.”
The success in the Pan American Games ups the ante for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year, where Colombia is set to break more records.
By Freek Huigen