Pan American Games Santiago 2023: Top stars to watch

Pan American Games Santiago 2023: Top stars to watch
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17 October 2023
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Olympic champions Rebeca Andrade, Mijain Lopez and Maggie MacNeil are among the stars who will be representing their nations at the 19th Pan American Games in Chile.

Some of the world’s top athletes will be competing at the Pan American Games 2023 in the Chilean capital Santiago from 20 October to 5 November.

As well as coveted medals at the multi-sport event, there are over 100 Olympic quota spots available in up to 21 sports with the boxing competition - the Americas leg of the boxing Road to Paris 2024 - being streamed live worldwide on Olympic Channel via Olympics.com and the official Olympics app.

Read on to learn about some of the big names taking part in the 19th Pan American Games.

 

Rebeca Andrade - artistic gymnastics

Fresh from her five-medal haul at this month’s World Championships in Antwerp, including beating Simone Biles to regain her vault crown, Rebeca Andrade has the chance to add more silverware to her collection.

The Brazilian gymnast took all-around silver behind Biles and will be fancied to win multiple golds with the American not competing in Santiago.

Andrade missed the 2019 Pan American Games after tearing her anterior cruciate knee ligament for a third time, and the 24-year-old will lead Brazil's women who will seek to improve on bronze behind the United States and Canada in Lima four years ago.

Canada’s Ellie Black is the reigning all-around and vault champion but failed to make the podium at the Worlds after making vault and uneven bars finals.

 
Jordan Chiles – artistic gymnastics

Biles’ absence allows Jordan Chiles to return to Team USA colours in Santiago.

With 11 consecutive national team appearances, a record for U.S. women, Chiles is heading to her first Pan American Games.

Having stepped in at short notice for Biles at Tokyo 2020, where she helped the United States to team silver, Chiles claimed her first global gold at the 2022 World Championships in Liverpool as USA won their sixth consecutive team title.

Having missed number seven in Antwerp, Chiles provides the experience for USA with Zoe Miller, Tiana Sumanasekera, Kayla DiCello and Kaliya Lincoln hoping to secure a sixth consecutive Pan American Games team title.

Rayssa Leal – street skateboarding

Skateboarding makes its debut at the Pan American Games with Rayssa Leal the big star in attendance.

The reigning street skateboarding world champion and Olympic silver medallist has recovered from a wrist injury sustained in Lausanne last month and took second place behind Chloe Covell earlier this month in Sydney.

While still only 15, Leal has a great opportunity to add to her medal collection with compatriot Pamela Rosa and American Paige Heyn likely to be her main challengers.

In park, Raicca Ventura carries Brazilian hopes with American skater Bryce Wettstein among her rivals.

In men’s street, Brazil’s Olympic silver medallist Kelvin Hoefler, Argentina’s Matias Dell Olio will be medal contenders with Olympian Jake Ilardi leading the US challenge. Brazil will also have high hopes for Augusto Akio in the park event.

Daniel Dhers – BMX freestyle

At 38, Daniel Dhers shows no sign of slowing down.

The Venezuelan legend became the first men's BMX freestyle Pan American Games champion four years ago in Lima and defends his title in Santiago.

The Olympic silver medallist continues to defy age, reaching the final of the UCI World Cup season climax in Bazhong, People’s Republic of China earlier this month where he finished eighth.

One of 11 Team Panam Sports ambassadors for the Games, Dhers said, “When you come to an event of this magnitude, the idea is to win them. It’s no secret that here in Chile there are a lot of Venezuelans and it will be the first time that such a big event has been here for Chileans and Venezuelans. This is going to be crazy and I’m so excited.”

Hannah Roberts – BMX freestyle

Also back to defend her women’s BMX freestyle title is five-time world champion Hannah Roberts.

An injured wrist forced the American to tone her training down a notch last month, but she showed little sign of discomfort as she took second place in Bazhong behind local rider Deng Yawen to clinch the World Cup crown.

After winning silver at Tokyo 2020, the 22-year-old just needs Olympic gold to complete her set of honours. And Roberts is an overwhelming favourite to retain her Pan American Games title.

Five-time BMX freestyle world champion Hannah Roberts: Olympic gold is the only missing piece in the puzzle

Maggie MacNeil - swimming

Reigning Olympic 100m butterfly champion Maggie MacNeil will be one of the stars of the pool in Santiago.

The Canadian took silver in her specialist event at July’s Fukuoka World Championships behind Zhang Yufei and ahead of Torri Huske.

While USA Swimming have chosen to use the Pan American Games to largely blood young talent, Canada’s squad mixes youth and experience with MacNeil and fellow Olympic relay medallists Sydney Pickrem and Katerine Savard among the leading lights.

Like Andrade and Dhers, 23-year-old MacNeil is a Team Panam Sports ambassador. She says she is excited to make her Games debut: “I watched some of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games and have been dying to participate myself, so I’m definitely excited to being it here and have a great crowd and hopefully get a couple of medals and hopefully some records for Canada.”

 

Mijain Lopez - Greco-Roman wrestling

Already the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of all time, Mijain Lopez is seeking more history in the year ahead.

The Cuban super-heavyweight became the sixth athlete to win four consecutive individual Olympic titles in the same event in Tokyo and is going for an unprecedented fifth gold at Paris 2024.

Incredibly, the 41-year-old has not given up a point in Olympic competition since Beijing 2008.

Before Paris, he is the hot favourite for a sixth consecutive Pan American Games crown in Santiago.

Another Team PanAm sports ambassador, Lopez said, "These are going to be my last Pan American Games and I'm very happy to be returning to Chile, a country where I feel well-received by colleagues and friends."

 
Richard Carapaz - road cycling

Richard Carapaz brought joy to Ecuador when he won the country’s second ever Olympic gold in the road race at Tokyo 2020.

He hopes to win more hardware in Santiago although the largely flat circuit of 17.5km - nine laps for the men, seven for the women - which starts and finishes in the Plaza de la Aviacion may favour the sprinters.

A week before the road race is the time trial which starts in Isla de Maipo just south of Santiago.
 
Richard Carapaz on winning gold at Tokyo 2020: "I still have it etched in my mind"

 

Adriana Diaz - table tennis

Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz was just 18 when she won singles, doubles and team table tennis golds at the Pan American Games in Lima four years ago.

Now the 22-year-old is on the brink of the world’s top 10 and fully expected to retain her individual title while she and elder sister Melanie will be hard to stop in the doubles.

Only one other player from the Americas, Bruna Takahashi who Diaz beat in the 2019 semi-finals, is currently ranked inside the top 25 and she will lead the Brazilian women’s team effort in Santiago.

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