Toronto 2015: Pan Am Games
During the first twenty minutes of episode 130 of my podcast, me and my friend Elvis discuss the 2015 Pan Am Games. Spoiler alert: we completely disagree. It all happens here if you've yet to listen.
As recently as early June, I was all set to hate these games. The term I used at the time was "underwhelmed". After all, the Pan Am Games aren't the Olympics, and at the time, I was stuck on that particular fact.
Then, I attended a torch relay. I had a great time, and when we were all cheering Natalie Spooner on as she ran in and lit the cauldron, I suddenly didn't care that these weren't the Olympics. I finally felt something beyond apathy, and it felt good.
I biked over to another torch relay the afternoon of the opening ceremony, and sat down with the family that night to watch Donovan Bailey base jump from the CN Tower onto the dome. By the time Steve Nash officially kicked things off, I was hooked.
It helped that my two older kids attended an early diving event at the new Aquatics Centre and Field House and raved about both the facility and the ambience. That's when I visited the schedule of events and made it a point to stream them live. That's right, I often had to stream, as many of my targeted events weren't televised live. That's another entry for another time, but streaming the events and Chromecasting them to my big screen was effortless and meant no ads, so I was happy.
Here's a taste of what I watched live:
- Ryan Cochrane in 1500m freestyle swim
- Men’s Baseball final, Canada vs. USA
- Women’s Basketball final, Canada vs. USA
- Andre De Grasse in 100m final
- Damian Warner in Decathlon
- Andre De Grasse in 200m final
- Men's Basketball final, Canada vs. Brazil
- Men's 4x100m relay final
I ended up watching much more than that, particularly in the athletics, but that was my "appointment viewing list". For the most part, it was thrilling, even with the disappointing disqualification in the 4x100m relay final.
Now that the Pan Am Games are over, I can sincerely admit that I'll miss them. It didn't matter to me that they weren't the Olympics. It was entertaining sport, the energy in this city was palpable, visits to Nathan Phillips Square and Pan Am Park were inspiring, and the thousands and thousands of volunteers filled me with pride.
What an amazing 16 days. Well done, Toronto.
It seems like Andre De Grasse has come out of nowhere. The 20-year old Canadian only started sprinting in 2012, and a mere 3-years later he's a bonafide threat to Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin in the 100m.
Last night, we saw him win gold in the Pan Am Games with a time of 10.05 seconds. He recently ran a wind-aided 9.75 to win the NCAA championship and is the first Canadian to legally break the 10-second barrier in 15 years. And remember, he's just twenty and three years into this sport.
Next month he'll be at the world championships in Beijing to take on the elites, Justin Gatlin and Usain Bolt. He's not there yet, but he's rapidly improving and if he ever gets that start right, he'll consistently run under 10-seconds. He's also pretty awesome in the 200m.
Canada hasn't had a world-class sprinter since Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin. This is exciting.
I watched every minute of last night's gold medal baseball game between Canada and the United States. No, it wasn't on television, but a live stream was readily available here. I Chromecast it to my television screen and settled in for a great night of ball.
With the game tied at 4, it went into extra innings. That's when things got a little weird. International baseball has this bizarre rule where you start extra innings with runners at first and second and lead off with any part of the lineup you desire. Crazy, eh? It reminds me of slo-pitch tournaments where we start extras with a runner on second base and one out, but that always made sense because another game was scheduled to use the same diamond right afterwards.
Once I wrapped my head around this little twist, I watched the United States score two runs in the top of the 10th and hoped for the best. That's when I witnessed my first ever walk-off failed pickoff play.
The camera angles for this game were less than ideal. On this final, exhilarating, gold medal clinching play, I didn't even know we were sending the winning run in from third. Suddenly, while I was still celebrating the tying run, there was a play at the plate. I've never seen anything like it.
Here's how it all went down. Crazy!
In early June, I wrote that I was still completely underwhelmed by the Pan Am Games. Now that they're finally here, it's time for an update.
I attended a couple of torch relay celebrations over the past week. Here's something I wrote about seeing Natalie Spooner light the cauldron in southwest Toronto. I'll admit it, attending the three hour party really warmed me to the spirit.
Then, on Friday, I rode to Queen's Quay and watched another torch relay. That night, I tuned into the opening ceremonies from the venue formerly known as Skydome and was thoroughly impressed. It closed with a spectacular fireworks display from the CN Tower.
By this point, I was into the Pan Am Games. My kids saw diving at the new CIBC Pan Am / Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House and loved it. I'm following the results, watching when I can, and feeling the spirit.
Torontonians love to complain about traffic and I've got friends hoping these Pan Am Games are a colossal failure. I've decided to join the party and embrace the event. It's more fun this way.
I want to be snarky about the Pan Am Games Torch Relay I attended in Sam Smith Park this evening, but I'm going to have to leave my snark at the door. It was actually a lot of fun.
I got there early with my youngest and watched him run around the field, stare awkwardly at Pachi and dance to the band playing golden oldies. There was lots to do and see and Natalie Spooner ran in with the Pan Am Torch around 7pm. She lit the cauldron, we all sang O Canada and I completely forgot how little I care about the Pan Am Games. It was a party and I was more interested in joining in than standing on the sidelines pointing and laughing.
I still care very little about the athletics, but I am psyched about all the peripheral partying in my city. I'll be here all July, so if I can enjoy a torch relay and some free concerts, I'm down with it.
We're a little over a month away from the 2015 Pan American Games. Toronto's the host city and we'll be welcoming approximately 6,135 athletes from 41 nations who will participate in 36 sports.
The Pan Am Games are not the Olympics. The Olympics are the world's biggest stage for athletics, and I love following them closely, but the Pan Am Games fail to excite me. I keep thinking that the excitement will kick in at some point, because we're the host city, but I'm still completely underwhelmed.
I read recently that a million tickets remain unsold. That's out of 1.4 million tickets in total. That sounds about right.
Is anyone excited about the 2015 Pan Am Games?
Want more Toronto Mike blog entries? Visit the archives.