Canadian swimmer Maggie Mac Neil, Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade, Dominican sprinter Marileidy Paulino and Ecuadorian cyclist Richard Carapaz are among the athletes set to compete in the Pan American Games in Santiago between October 20 and November 5.
The Pan American Games, the largest multi-sport event in the Americas, are held every four years and precede the Olympics by a year. Santiago will debut as host. The Opening Ceremony will be on Friday.
REBECA ANDRADE (Brazil)
Possibly the biggest star going to Chile, Andrade is Brazil’s most decorated gymnast in history. Earlier this month, she defeated American great Simone Biles to take the vault gold at the world championship in Antwerp. The 24-year-old Brazilian won two medals at the Tokyo Olympics three years ago: gold in the vault competition and silver in the all-round individual. She will have her debut in Pan American Games. Andrade has nine medals in world championships, including three golds. After beating Biles, the U.S. Gymnastics federation published a picture of the two competitors side by side in its social media channels. “Many more battles still to come,” it said.
MAGGIE MAC NEIL (Canada)
The China-born Canadian swimmer won one medal of each colour at the Tokyo Olympics; gold in the 100-meter butterfly despite not wearing her contact lenses, silver in the 400 freestyle relay and bronze in the 400 medley relay. The 23-year-old has accumulated several medals in world championships since she turned professional in 2019. She has recovered from a hand injury and prioritized her mental health in recent years. She is likely to win big races not only in Chile, but also in France at next year’s Olympic Games.
KYLE SNYDER (United States)
The 27-year-old wrestler from Maryland is a former Olympic champion and silver medalist in the 97 kg category. He also has three gold medals in world championships and another two at Pan American Games. Known by fans as “Captain America,” he had a shocking 179-0 high school record before he started competing at the world under-20 wrestling championships at just 17. Snyder has been affected by injuries during the current Olympic cycle, but still won three world championship medals recently.
MARILEIDY PAULINO (Dominican Republic)
The 26-year-old sprinter arrives in Santiago as one of the main athletes among to compete. She won gold in the 400 meters race at the Budapest world championship in August. Last year, Paulino won gold in the 4x400 meters mixed relay race at the world championship of Eugene, in Oregon. One year prior, she won silver in both those events at the Tokyo Olympics. The Dominican sprinter will attend the Pan American Games because they will take place at a time the track and field elite is resting. Also because of that, she will also compete in the 200 meters race, a rare feature for her.
GABRIELA AGÚNDEZ (Mexico)
The 23-year-old Mexican diver won bronze in the synchronized 10-meter platform diving at the Tokyo Olympics. She finished fourth in the individual competition. Now she will go for her first in Pan American Games as a big hope for gold medals in both events. Agúndez won silver with Mexico’s mixed 3-meters and 10-meters diving team at the at the world aquatics championship in Fukuoka, Japan. She is one of her country’s biggest hopes for a medal at the Paris Olympics.
MARIANA PAJÓN (Colombia)
The queen of BMX has won almost everything. She was the first Latin American woman to win two Olympic gold medals in an individual sport. After her titles in London and Rio de Janeiro, she finished second in Tokyo. Pajón, who is reaching the end of her career at age 31, has won 10 world championships. She hopes to get a third Pan American gold medal after her titles in Guadalajara 2011 and Lima 2019. The Colombian athlete finished fifth at the latest cycling world championships in Glasgow.
RICHARD CARAPAZ (Ecuador)
Winner of the pink shirt at the Giro de Italia in 2019 and defending Olympic champion in road cycling. The Ecuadorian rider had several health problems and injuries that sidelined him from the main European competitions. He will be in Santiago to end his bad streak. At age 30, Carapaz seeks his first Pan American gold. He will compete in the road race and the individual track cycling.
RAYSSA LEAL (Brazil)
The 15-year-old skateboarding phenomenon is one her country’s most popular athletes. Her sport will make its debut in Pan American Games. Leal won silver in the Street event at the Tokyo Olympics. In April, she returned to Japan and won the X-Games for a second time. The Brazilian won 11 of the latest 12 tournaments she competed in. Nicknamed “Fadinha,” (Little Fairy in English), she leads the World Skate rankings, which should secure her a direct spot at the Paris Olympics.
DANIEL DHERS (Venezuela)
A star in the X-Games for a decade, Dhers won silver in BMX freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics in the sport’s debut in the program. The 38-year-old rider is likely to retire after the Paris Olympics. Since earlier this year, the Venezuelan has also worked as a coach for China’s BMX freestyle team, chiefly showing his knowledge to the Asian country’s women’s team.
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