GUADALAJARA’S PAN AMERICAN GAMES A HUGE SUCCESS
By David Harper – Ojo Sports Editor at the Games
The naysayers have been silenced. Not only did the Games go off without a hitch but those participating said that the experience was better than anything they had hoped for. Mexicans and athletes from 41 other nations mixed together in happy throngs all over greater Guadalajara and other venues in Jalisco. Your writer, seen above in a giveaway cardboard games hat at the rugby finals, witnessed the arrival there of Canada’s Governor General David Johnson, accompanied by some lovely young ladies from Canada’s gymnastics team.
Mexican young men thronged around them wanting their pictures taken with the girls (photo below) who were happy to let them snap away. Soon everyone was cheering for Canada’s rugby team who pulled off an upset by beating the heavily favored Argentina Pumas in the Gold medal final in what was the last contest of the games. The USA Eagles won the Bronze medal by beating Uruguay.
Dave and Helen Williamson traveled all the way from Berkeley, California to support their USA Eagles. Dressed up in the stars and bars and red, white and blue they were also very popular with Mexican fans who wanted to have their picture taken with them. Typical of many games visitors, they stayed in Mexico for a number of days and visited other areas, including Guanajuato and Lakeside. This is a knock-on tourist effect that is hard to measure.
As a team Mexico had its best medal haul ever and finished fourth (with 133 medals) behind the USA (236), Brazil (141), Cuba (136) and ahead of Canada (119), Colombia (84), and Argentina (74). This was a great jump up the ladder for Mexico who finished behind Canada in the 2007 Rio games with just 73 medals to Canada’s 138.
Everyone agreed that a great part of the success was the passion and happiness of the Mexican crowds. They cheered wildly not only for their own Mexican athletes but also for good performances by other teams, including those from the north. The happy Mexican Wave was a common sight and there were no reports of any misbehavior. There was a heavy security presence at all venues and while the sight of so many uniformed men and women with guns may have bothered some, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Head of the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) for 35 years, Mario Vasquez Rana, a wealthy Mexican businessman, said in his closing remarks that the Guadalajara Games was the best ever and when the flag was passed to the 2015 hosts, Toronto, their leader said that they would have to work hard to match the quality of the Guadalajara games.