Sunday, April 8, 2012

2012 Pan American Championships - Summary

Eight countries reached the podium at the XXV Pan American Championships in Temuco, Chile. Mexico led the way as they did last year with five medals led by Paola Longoria, who won gold in both singles and doubles with partner Samantha Salas. Salas was playing her first competition since last year's Pan American Games, as she's been out with an arm injury.

In men's play, it was almost like 2010 all over again, but with a twist, as both Canadian Mike Green and Bolivian Ricardo Monroy won gold, but in the other division than they did in two years ago.

Green won in men's singles this year and Monroy in doubles (with partner Roland Keller) but in 2010 it was Green taking gold in doubles (with Tim Landeryou) and Monroy winning singles.

This year marked a few firsts. Monroy and Keller were the first Bolivians to win men's doubles, and Monroy is the first South American player to be a multiple gold medalist. Also, Fernando Rios was the first Ecuador player to get a silver medal in men's singles.

Americans, where art thou?

The absence of American players in the men's draw likely contributed to the success of the other countries. The USA only had one player in the competition: Rhonda Rajsich, who's going home with a bronze medal in women's singles.

This isn't the first time that the USA hasn't fielded a complete team for this competition, as they sent no one to the 2010 Pan American Championship in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. USA Racquetball needs to explain why they aren't sending players to this competition, and whether this trend will continue in the future.

You want to have your best players at your international competitions. But there can be conflicts of interest between playing for your country and playing for yourself on the pro tour. This is seen in other sports as well as racquetball (in soccer this is discussed as a club v. country conflict), but in racquetball it has been American men who haven't always seemed interested in playing for their country.

Certainly, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) considers sports for inclusion in the Olympic Games they look at whether the best players would be playing in Games. Looking at a men's draw like there was in Temuco - one man from the top 15 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) players (Daniel De La Rosa) and only three from the top 40 (Juan Martinez III and Tim Landeryou at 35 and 40, respectively) - you'd be hard pressed to argue that to the IOC that the best players would be in the Olympics.

Of course, USA Racquetball could say that they always send their best players to the World Championships. However, one of their best players declined to play at last year's Pan American Games, which several people talk about as being racquetball's Olympics as it's the largest multi-sport event that includes racquetball (though the Pan Am Games are limited geographically to the Americas, most of the best racquetball countries are in the Americas).

When one of your countries doesn't participate in a competition, it's a concern, regardless of the country in question. When that country is one of your strongest countries, it's more than a concern.

XXV Pan American Championships
Temuco, Chile

Men's Singles

GOLD: Mike Green (Canada)
SILVER: Fernando Rios (Ecuador)
BRONZE: Daniel De La Rosa (Mexico) and Vincent Gagnon (Canada)

Women's Singles

GOLD: Paola Longoria (Mexico)
SILVER: Frédérique Lambert (Canada)
BRONZE: Carola Loma (Bolivia) and Rhonda Rajsich (USA)

Women's Doubles

GOLD: Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas (Mexico)
SILVER: Jenny Daza & Carola Loma (Bolivia)
BRONZE: Cristina Amaya & Carolina Gomez (Colombia) and Christine Richardson & Jennifer Saunders (Canada)

Men's Doubles

GOLD: Roland Keller & Ricardo Monroy (Bolivia)
SILVER: Alejandro Cardona & Edson Martinez (Mexico)
BRONZE: Daniel Maggi & Fernando Kurzbard (Argentina) and Cesar Castillo & Roberto Santander (Venezuela)


Mexico - 5 Total = 2 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze
Canada - 4 Total = 1 G, 1 S, 2 B
Bolivia - 3 Total = 1 G, 1 S, 1 B
Ecuador - 1 Total = 0 G, 1 S, 0 B
USA - 1 Total = 0 G, 0 S, 1 B
Colombia - 1 Total = 0 G, 0 S, 1 B
Argentina - 1 Total = 0 G, 0 S, 1 B
Venezuela - 1 Total = 0 G, 0 S, 1 B

Follow the bouncing ball....

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