(ATR) The penultimate day of the XVIII Pan American Games in Lima will feature the largest number of finals during the competition.
Peru is hoping to reach the men's soccer final (Lima 2019)
A total of 20 medal events are scheduled on the eve of the closing ceremony on August 11, including men's soccer, the national sport of Peru. The opening ceremony is July 26.
The Peruvians trust that hosting the Games for the first time will mean their athletes will produce the best ever performance by the country. If in addition their soccer team qualifies for the final on August 10, it would just be the icing on the cake.
Peru has participated in men's soccer once in the 17 previous Games, finishing sixth at Toronto 2015. The sport has been on the calendar of all the Games beginning with the inaugural edition in 1951.
Women's soccer debuted at the 1999 Winnipeg Games but Lima will be the first time Peru will be in that competition.
The biggest surprise around these two continental tournaments is that Brazil will not be competing in either one.
Brazil and Mexico have each won four men's soccer titles, trailing Argentina which has won six. Uruguay has won the gold twice while the United States and Ecuador have each won once.
Despite the tournament being held 17 times, 18 gold medals have been handed out. Two gold medals were awarded in 1975 in Mexico City, when the final between Mexico and Brazil, tied at one, was stopped by the referee in extra time because of a power failure at the Azteca Stadium. It was the last day of the Pan American Games and there was no time to either complete or replay the game, so the gold was shared.
The men's basketball final is also on August 10. The USA has not won gold since 1983. (Toronto 2015)
The men's basketball final will also be held on August 10. The United States will be trying to win the gold medal for the first time since 1983 in Caracas. Argentina and Puerto Rico are among the teams providing the competition. Brazil, which has won four of the last five gold medals, failed to qualify for Lima. Canada, which won silver in Toronto in 2015, will also miss out.
The athletics program will feature the always spectacular relay finals, and along with swimming, will provide further proof to consider August 10 as the most attractive day for the Games.
The other disciplines awarding medals that day are wrestling, racquetball, road cycling, speed skating, bodybuilding (which debuts in Lima), Basque pelota, karate (kumite), judo, table tennis, men's field hockey, archery, softball, water polo, fencing, rowing and sailing.
On August 11, before the closing ceremony, gold medals will be awarded in women's volleyball, BMX cycling, judo, archery and athletics (race walking).
There are those who yearn to be witnesses to a return to glory of the Peruvian women's volleyball team. The current team is determined to emulate those local heroines who were runners-up for five straight Pan Ams between 1967 and 1987. Peru also finished second at the 1982 World Cup, and to top it off, won the silver medal at the 1988 Olympics.
Reported by Miguel Hernandez.
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