100 Days to Pan American Games

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Wednesday marked 100 days until the Opening Ceremony of the XVI Pan American Games, to be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, Oct. 14-30 which is the final qualifying competition in the Americas for equestrian sports for the 2012 London Olympics.

The Pan Ams will feature nearly 6,000 athletes representing 42 countries, making it the largest sporting event to be hosted by Mexico since the 1986 FIFA World Cup. The Games, historically held one year before the Olympic Games, feature the 28 sports competed at the Olympics plus additional disciplines elected by the host country and international federations.

The U.S. is the only nation from the Americas to have already qualified a dressage team for London, which it did by its fourth place finish at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010.

At the 2007 Games, the U.S, won team gold, Canada silver and Brazil bronze while individual gold went to Chris Hickey and silver to Lauren Sammis, both of the U.S., and bronze to Yvonne Losos de Muniz of the Dominican Republic.

The Pan American Games represent the largest contingent of Team USA athletes to compete in an international sporting event with approximately 650 U.S. athletes gearing up for Guadalajara.

“The Pan American Games are a highlight of the international competition schedule and we’re all looking forward to Guadalajara,” said Alan Ashley, USOC chief of sport performance and the Chef de Mission of Team USA for the XVI Pan American Games. “The sheer number of U.S. athletes attending this event is incredible and fans can expect exciting and impressive performances as Team USA competes against some of the best athletes in the world.”

Team USA will field teams in archery, badminton, baseball, basketball, bowling, boxing, canoe/kayak, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, field hockey, gymnastics, judo, karate, modern pentathlon, pelota, racquetball, roller skating, rowing, rugby 7s, sailing, shooting, softball, squash, swimming, synchronized swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, team handball, tennis, track & field, triathlon, volleyball, water polo, water skiing, weightlifting and wrestling.

Some notable U.S. Olympians who have competed in past Pan American Games include Jim Abbott (baseball), Arthur Ashe (tennis), Henry Cejudo (wrestling), Shawn Johnson (gymnastics), Michael Jordan (basketball), Sugar Ray Leonard (boxing), Nastia Liukin (gymnastics), Greg Louganis (diving), Shannon Miller (gymnastics), Hope Solo (soccer), Leon Spinks (boxing), Mark Spitz (swimming) and Amy Van Dyken (swimming).

The first Pan American Games took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1951 and were last held in Rio de Janiero in 2007, which will host the 2016 Olympics.