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What the Pan American Games Would Bring

Late Friday afternoon, we will all find out whether Toronto and the Greater Golden Horseshoe will host the 2015 Pan American Games. The vote, by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO), will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico. The final decision is expected between 6 and 6:30 p.m. EST.

The Canadian bid, up against Bogota and Lima, is a very strong one and has firm support across the political spectrum. Hosting the Pan American Games would bring Southern Ontario valuable new sport facilities, improvements to existing ones, tourism, jobs, housing units, inspiration for youth, and represent a major step forward for summer sport development in Canada.

Here is a glimpse at the thoughts of several distinguished Canadian Pan Am athletes in the final days before the 2015 decision is made.

Jessica Zelinka, heptathlon, 2007 gold medallist

“Southern Ontario exhibits an overall love for sports, a great respect and interest in their amateur athletes, and the ability and drive to be a world-class host. The Games will showcase our Canadian summer athletes in our own backyard, giving our summer sports more exposure in a country that is often identified primarily for its winter sports.

I believe hosting the Pan Am Games in Southern Ontario will highlight our county’s passion for sport, culture, community and the value we put on investing in the future.”

Jaret Llewellyn, water skiing, six-time medallist (four gold)

“For the sport of water skiing, the Pan Am Games is our Olympic Games. I carried the Canadian Flag at the Santo Domingo Games, a highlight of my career. You can’t even explain the feeling! I would love to put this into my calendar so I could maybe end my career at the Games, competing with my son, on home soil. Time to pass the torch: what a way to go!”

Alexandra Orlando, rhythmic gymnastics, 2007 triple gold medallist

“What is so incredible is that the 2015 Pan Am Games will benefit every single person living in this province. The lasting legacy for Ontario includes new facilities and renovations to existing centers, which will impact grassroots community programs to high performance training.

These Games will provide our athletes with world-class facilities, increasing their ability to reach their true potential. To compete against the best in the world, our athletes have to train like them. The boost to our facility infrastructure from the 2015 Pan Am Games would have an immeasurable impact on our international performance and the development of future high level athletes.”

Emilie Heymans, diving, six-time medallist (five gold)

“With the Pan Am Games in Southern Ontario, this area will benefit from quality sport facilities and the Games will make all the young athletes of the province dream. This lets younger athletes feel the Games experience, from the athlete village to the pressure of performing at home. With the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, this will help consolidate Canada’s position as a world sport leader.”

Jacques Cardyn, fencing, 1983 gold medallist, 2011 Chef de Mission for Canada

“Toronto and Southern Ontario will be a magnificent rendezvous for all the Pan Am community. Athletes from South, Central, North America and the Caribbean will find in the Toronto area members of their own country with whom to share in the festivities. Toronto is more than just another major city in the world. Its diversity is an asset.

Rio did a phenomenal job hosting the 2007 Pan Am Games and was later given the 2016 Olympics. While Guadalajara gets ready to host the 2011 Games, Toronto would love to fulfill a major commitment to PASO and host a great Games in 2015.”

For more, visit www.toronto2015.org.