(ATR) Both the swimming and athletics competitions begin on Tuesday at the Pan American Games in Lima.
The Aquatics Center is the venue for swimming (Lima 2019)
In a break with the traditional scheduling of swimming in the first week and athletics in the second as it is done at the Olympics, organizers of Lima 2019 not only have two of the marquee sports beginning on the same day but have them housed in the same area.
Both the athletics stadium and the aquatics center are part of VIDENA, the national sports complex for Peru. The athletics begins at 2pm and runs until 8pm, giving spectators who wish to catch the evening medals session for the swimming about 30 minutes to move between the two venues. The swimming heats begin late in the morning in Peru.
It was confirmed on Monday that sprinters Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo, both of the Bahamas, had pulled out of the athletics competition, citing other commitments.
Gardiner, a world silver medalist for 400m, was entered for that event and the men’s 200m, while Miller-Uibo, the women’s 400m Olympic champion, was due to run in her specialty.
They join sprinter Justin Gatlin of the United States, who had earlier announced that he decided not to run in Lima.
Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell (ATR)
But the importance of the Pan Am Games is not lost on Leroy Burrell, former 100m world record holder and Olympic 4x100m relay gold medalist.
He and Carl Lewis, who coach together at the University of Houston, are in Lima coaching five athletes.
“It’s exciting for us because people lose sight of the Pan American Games, of this event that North and South Americans come together to take part in. We had to really explain it to some of our athletes who just don’t know the history of the Games. And when they arrived here they were like, ‘Oh my goodness this is really big’.
“Immediately they realized the stature and importance of it. Now, they realize if they are able to win at the Pan Am Games it really means a lot," Burrell told a press briefing on Monday.
Panam Sports secretary general Ivar Sisniega told reporters he was excited for the swimming and athletics to begin, adding that he believes there will be Pan Am records broken in both competitions.
There are eight gold medal events in swimming and five in athletics on offer for Tuesday. Gold medals will also be handed out in equestrian, fencing and table tennis.
The United States still leads the medals table after Monday’s competitions, with a total of 141, 57 of them gold. Canada is second with 88 medals, 23 of them gold. Brazil also has 23 gold, but only 78 total medals and is in third. The host country Peru is currently 8th, with seven gold medals among a total of 23.
Written by Gerard Farek in Lima.
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