(ATR) Panam Sports and Lima 2019 organizers brought out some high-level talent to highlight the start of the stadium portion of the athletics competition at the Pan American Games.
Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell (ATR)
Carl Lewis, an Olympic and world champion in the 100 meters and long jump, was joined by his former teammate and Olympic gold medalist sprinter Leroy Burrell at a press conference on Monday in Lima.
The two men, who currently coach at their alma mater the University of Houston, arrived in Peru on Sunday. They are coaching five athletes who will be taking part when the athletics begins in earnest on Tuesday. Two of them are competing for the USA, two for Barbados and one for the Bahamas.
For Lewis, the Pan American Games has great meaning.
“It was the first international competition I ever competed in, in 1979 in Puerto Rico. I turned 18 in Puerto Rico that year,” Lewis explained.
“My mother competed for the United States in the very first Pan American Games in Argentina and she spoke about that and how it affected her life and in turn because of that she really wanted us to travel as kids growing up more and that experience was amazing for her and if it wasn’t for her and what she believed in I wouldn’t have been in athletics.”
Neither Lewis nor Burrell has been to Peru before, but Burrell was impressed after visiting the facilities for the athletics at the VIDENA, the national sports village, earlier on Monday.
“Outside of how the Peruvian athletes perform here, I think what’s even more a point is the commitment to attempt to host the Games. We had an opportunity to go by the stadium today and the first thing I did was call back to the U.S. to my [university] administration and say ‘look at this, this is amazing’. The facility is astounding. I think that’s the foundation that a champion or two will be built on.”
Burrell added that he believes South American athletics in general is improving and “we’re going to witness that on stage” this week in Lima.
Written and reported by Gerard Farek in Lima.
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