Swimmer Mac Neil wins gold for Canada at Pan Am Games


Canada continued its medal haul at the 2023 Pan Am Games with a big day in the pool highlighted by a record-breaking performance.

Maggie Mac Neil became Canada’s most decorated Pan Am athlete Wednesday when she helped the team to gold in the women’s 4×100-metre medley relay.

The 23-year-old from London, Ont., finished with five gold — the most ever by a Canadian at a single Pan Am Games — and seven total medals in Santiago.

“It’s so special and obviously there was pressure on myself to do well,” Mac Neil said.

“I’m really stoked with the results, especially for October, and obviously there’s a lot to work towards but I’m really pleased with that,” she added.

Canadian swimmers won three gold and five total medals on the final day of swimming competition, giving the country 25 overall (11 gold, six silver, eight bronze).

Sydney Pickrem, born in Dunedin, Fla., to parents from Halifax, won gold in the women’s 200 individual medley with teammate Mary-Sophie Harvey of Trois-Rivieres, Que., taking silver.

Harvey was also part of the winning medley relay team, swimming the final leg. She also finished with seven medals, tying Mac Neil for most ever by a Canadian female athlete at a single Pan Am Games.

“I kept telling the coaches to put me last on the relay because I wanted to have that pressure,” Harvey said. “It was extra hard for me because I had the 200 IM and it really hurt the last 50.

“But that’s OK, I wanted to step up for Canada and it was a really fun race because I executed what I wanted to.”

Finlay Knox of Okotoks, Alta., topped the podium in the men’s 200 IM, while the men’s 4×100 medley team captured bronze.

It was a big day for Canada’s badminton team, which swept the three doubles titles, and Toronto’s Brian Yang added gold in men’s singles. And Canada won another gold at the cycling velodrome in women’s team pursuit.

Gymnast Felix Dolci of St-Eustache, Que., continued his successful Games with bronze in men’s vault. Dolci finished his Games with four medals (two gold, two bronze), including the men’s all-around title. Ava Stewart of Bowmanville, Ont., took bronze in women’s balance beam.

Alizee Brien of Ste-Agathe, Que., and Calgary’s Shaye De Pavia finished with bronze in the women’s double sculls as Canada finished with four rowing medals, including gold in the women’s eight on Tuesday.

“There have been a lot of memorable moments for me this week,” Brien said. “But I think it has been the team and the team spirit that I will remember the most.

“Winning a gold medal in the eight was incredible but being part of the team and being with the support staff and getting to experience the Games with the crowds and volunteers, has been a lot of fun.”

In diving, Mia Vallee of Kirkland, Que., and Pamela Ware of Greenfield Park, Que., took sliver in the women’s three-metre springboard.

Shannon Westlake of Keswick, Ont., added bronze in the women’s rifle 3×20.

Canada’s champion relay team, which also included Danielle Hanus of Newmarket, Ont., and Rachel Nichol of Lethbridge, Alta., crossed the line first in three minutes 58.76 seconds. The United States was second in 3:59.39, followed by Colombia in 4:04.73.

Earlier, Pickrem earned her second gold and third overall medal of the Games, finishing first in the women’s 200 IM in a Pan Am Games record time of 2:09.04. Harvey was second in 2:11.92, followed by Helen Noble of the United States in 2:14.19.

Knox finished with five medals (one gold, four bronze) after winning the men’s 200 IM in 1:58.74. He was followed by Arsenio Bustos of the U.S. (1:59.89) and Brazil’s Leonardo Coelho (2:00.58).

“It’s my first international win so I’m very happy with that,” Knox said. “It’s October, we’ve just come off a little summer break and you have that little voice in the back of your head telling you every excuse why you can’t win.

“You just have to tell it, `Watch this,’ and prove that little voice in your head wrong.”

In badminton, Nyl Yakura of Pickering, Ont., and Adam Dong of Burlington, Ont., defeated Brazil’s Davi Silva and Fabricio Farias 2-1 in the men’s doubles final.

Catherine Choi of Markham, Ont., and Edmonton’s Josephine Wu took the women’s doubles crown with a 2-1 win over Annie Xu and Kerry Xu of the United States.

Wu won her second gold when she teamed with Ty Lindeman of St. Albert, Alta., for a 2-1 win over Americans Jennie Gai and Vinson Chiu in the mixed doubles final.

Yang beat independent athlete Kevin Cordon Buezo 2-0 in the men’s final, winning the tournament without losing a game.

In track cycling, the Canadian team of Edmonton’s Devaney Collier, Vancouver’s Fiona Majendie, Kiara Lylyk of Guelph, Ont., and Ruby West of Dundas, Ont., defeated Mexico in the women’s team pursuit final. Lylyk was a late substitute after Ngaire Barraclough withdrew due to illness.

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