Monday, August 12, 2019

Summary of 2019 Pan American Games

The 2019 Pan American Games ended yesterday in Lima, Peru. Thus, the next Pan Am Games quadrennial begins today with the culmination being the XIX Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile from October 22-November 5, 2023. Let’s review what happened in Lima before we look ahead to Santiago.

Mexicans won five of the six events in Lima, sweeping the four individual events - Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles - and winning Women’s Team gold. They only came up short in the Men’s Team event, losing in the semi-finals. This was as impressive as it was unsurprising. Mexico has been the power to reckon with in racquetball for some time now, surpassing the USA as the #1 racquetball country.

Bolivia won gold in the Men’s Team event, which was the first gold for them at the Pan Am Games. Colombia was runner up in the Men’s Team event, capturing their first Pan Am Games silver medal. Also, Costa Rica won their first Pan Am Games medal, a bronze in Men’s Doubles, as did Guatemala: a silver in Women's Doubles. On the negative side, the USA came home from Lima without a gold medal, which was a first. Canada came home without a medal at all, another first.

Who will be in Santiago?

Lima may have been the last Pan Am Games for some players. Alvaro Beltran (Mexico) and Rocky Carson (USA) are both 40 (Beltran will be 41 in October). Rhonda Rajsich is a year older. Shai Mazuri (Argentina) and Jennifer Saunders (Canada) are also over 40. Will they be able to compete at this level in four years time?

There are also some significant players over 30: Cristina Amaya (Colombia), Felipe Camacho (Costa Rica), Fernando Kurzbard (Argentina) and Jenny Daza (Bolivia). Even Mexico’s Paola Longoria turned 30 in July, and Samantha Salas will be 33 in December.

Mexico shouldn’t worry, as there are several young Mexican players who will compete for spots on the Mexican team that will go to Santiago. Even from the team that was in Lima, Montserrat Mejia is still a teen-ager (turning 20 in December), and Javier Mar and Rodrigo Montoya - at 24 and 23, are not much older. With other countries, it’s more difficult to see who is coming up, even with the USA.

But there could be surprises. A few years ago Charles Pratt may not have been thought of as potential USA Team material, but he comes back from Lima with two bronze medals to go with the silver he earned in Men’s Singles at last year’s International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships. However, Pratt is also 33.

Will we see them?

While it’s great for racquetball to be included in a major multi-sport event, like the Pan American Games, it can - ironically - be the least available for racquetball fans, who have gotten spoiled from on line streaming that is done by the pro tours - both the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) and Ladies Professoinal Racquetball Tour (LPRT) - as well as at international events by the IRF.

The reason for lack of viewing at big events is clear: a major broadcaster has bought the rights for the event, so only it can show the sports. However, any broadcaster will be limited in what they can show to the public through their channel (or channels). Broadcasters are going to select sports with broader appeal, like basketball or baseball, over sports with narrower appeal, like racquetball. Thus, even though racquetball is at a big event, not much racquetball is seen by those not on site.

This must be the case with other smaller sports, so perhaps racquetball could band together with other small sports to try to address this issue with broadcasting rights holders at future events. In the past, broadcasting was expensive and difficult and only possible through televisions, but with the internet the costs and difficulty of broadcasting are way down, as computers and mobile devices are platforms for receiving broadcasts.

Small sports at multi-sport games should want to have their events seen by as many people as possible, which was difficult with old technology. But with current technology this should not be acceptable, and a solution should be found that can allow fans of small sports to see their sport showcased at major multi-sport events.

2019 Pan American Games - Lima, Peru


Men’s Singles

GOLD - Rodrigo MONTOYA (Mexico)
SILVER - Alvaro BELTRAN (Mexico)
BRONZE - Conrrado MOSCOSO (Bolivia)
BRONZE - Mario MERCADO (Colombia)

Women’s Singles

GOLD - Paola LONGORIA (Mexico)
SILVER - Maria José VARGAS (Argentina)
BRONZE - Natalia MENDEZ (Argentina)
BRONZE - Adriana RIVEROS (Colombia)

Men’s Doubles

GOLD - Javier MAR & Rodrigo MONTOYA (Mexico)
SILVER - Roland KELLER & Conrrado MOSCOSO (Bolivia)
BRONZE - Andres ACUÑA & Felipe CAMACHO (Costa Rica)

Women’s Doubles

GOLD - Paola LONGORIA & Samantha SALAS (Mexico)
SILVER - Gabriela MARTINEZ & Maria RODRIGUEZ (Guatemala)
BRONZE - Natalia MENDEZ & Maria José VARGAS (Argentina)

Men’s Teams

GOLD - Bolivia - Carlos KELLER, Roland KELLER and Conrrado MOSCOSO
SILVER - Colombia - Sebastian FRANCO and Mario MERCADO
BRONZE - Mexico - Alvaro BELTRAN, Javier MAR and Rodrigo MONTOYA

Women’s Teams

GOLD - Mexico - Paola LONGORIA, Montserrat MEJIA and Samantha SALAS
SILVER - Argentina - Maria José VARGAS and Natalia MENDEZ
BRONZE - Bolivia - Angelica BARRIOS, Valeria CENTELLAS and Jenny DAZA

Follow the bouncing ball….

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