HAVANA._ However modest the results obtained by their team of 700 athletes registered to compete in the Toronto Games may be, Canada remains irremovable from third place in the all-time Pan American Games´ medal table.

Organizing this continental event for a third time – having done so before in Winnipeg in both 1967 and 1999 –, the host nation has a combined total of 377 gold, 586 silver, and 733 bronze medals, only ranking behind the U.S. (1,861 gold, 1,379 silver, 933 bronze) and Cuba (840-564-529).

Brazil, in fourth place, is far behind the Canadians, who face into this 17th edition with not only 90 more titles, but also the added home advantage and a presence in 36 sports and 52 events scheduled for the games.

This essentially means that regardless of how impressive the Brazilian performance in the contest might be, it seems impossible for them to take the host nation’s place in the alltime medal table.

Nevertheless, the potential medal table scenario for these games is a different affair. There is no doubt that the United States will continue to reign, but there is no such certainty regarding what country will finish second to them.

Cuba’s sporting authorities insist that they will push hard to defend the second place they have held since the Cali-1971 Games, something that will be difficult because Canada will have full team participation in every sport and Brazil will have a 600 strong delegation, its second largest ever.

It was in Winnipeg-1999 that Canada performed best, taking third place overall with 64 gold, 52 silver, and 80 bronze medals, a mere 5 titles short of the total taken by Cuba.

WHAT’S NEW IN TORONTO?

The Toronto-2015 Games include four disciplines not featured in Guadalajara-2011: women’s golf, rugby 7, canoe/ kayak-slalom, and softball as well as a total of 825 trials that will be contested by 7,600 athletes from 41 countries.

Offering qualification opportunities in 16 sports for next year´s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, these games will feature a battle for a total of 1, 283 medals, for which the Royal Canadian Mint have employed an innovative 25-stage manufacturing process.

According to organizers, an ancestral technique known as “mokume gane” means that each layer is a unique part and the minting of the various alloys reflects the cultural multiplicity of participants and the comradeship between nations represented.

Another unpublicized fact is that the medals, in the creative process of which the Metis Canadian ethnic group artist Christi Belcourt was involved, will have TORONTO-2015 engraved in Braille.

When talking about medals, it is almost impossible not to mention one of the Canadian figures who has shone most brightly in these events.

To date, nobody has been able to equal the performance of swimmer Joanne Malar, a 200m and 400m Medley specialist and winner of an unmatched total of 19 medals between the Games of Havana-1991 and Santa Domingo-2003.

Also memorable are the performances of badminton player Denyse Julian, who despite making her debut at 34 years of age in Mar de Plata in 1995, managed, to win three titles in singles, doubles (with Sian Deng), and mixed doubles (with Darryll Yung).

She stood at the top of the podium again in Winnipeg-1999, alongside Iain Sydie for mixed doubles and in Santo Domingo-2003 repeated the success in partnership with Phillipe Bourret.

Among the disciplines returning to the Pan American program, softball has one of its greatest exponents, Ray Tilley, a four times gold medal winner between 1983 and 1995.

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